Menstrual Suppression and Fertility
Menstruation is a normal part of a woman’s reproductive life. However, some women and some experts feel that a menstruation cycle poses certain disadvantages to women, pertaining to both health and lifestyle, and therefore having their period is an inconvenience. In fact, a recently conducted poll found that 71% of women surveyed did not enjoy getting their monthly period. As such, pills similar to regular birth control pills have been developed in order to achieve menstrual suppression. But some experts warn that menstrual suppression can have a negative effect on women’s health, and even their fertility.
Menstrual Suppression Pills
Menstrual suppression occurs when a woman takes a birth control pill continuously, or for a period of time longer than the typical 21-day cycle with seven days off that regular birth control pills follow.
One type of menstrual suppression birth control pill currently approved for use is Seasonale. Approved in 2003 by the FDA, Seasonale is a regular contraceptive pill that reduces the number of periods a woman has annually to four.
Another type of menstrual suppression pill is Anya; although it has not yet been approved, the pill is a normal contraceptive pill that also stops periods and would result in a woman not having any periods. However, studies have shown that 30% of women still bleed within the first six months of taking the pill.
Expert Opions of Menstruation Suppression Pills
There are opposing views when it comes to the benefits and health risks associated with menstruation suppression pills.
Some experts stress the benefits of menstrual suppression pills, which they state include the following:
- choice. Many experts, as well as many women, feel that menstruation suppression pills give them a greater amount of liberty when it comes to their menstrual cycle. Stopping a period is a way of asserting female independence and control over their reproductive health and reproductive cycle.
- reproductive health benefits. Menstruation suppression pills can be beneficial in helping to minimize the symptoms associated with such conditions as endometriosis and dysmenorrhea. They can also help women with menopause-related problems.
- general health benefits. Menstruation suppression pills are believed to help to prevent such diverse conditions as anemia, ovarian cancer and migraines.
However, other experts warn that there are several risks associated with menstrual suppression pills like Anya, such as:
- high exposure to estrogen. Menstrual suppression pills expose women to hormones over a greater period of time than regular birth control pills and in some cases in smaller yet more powerful doses. Seasonale, for example, exposes women to 9 more weeks of estrogen and progestin annually compared to regular birth control pills.
- general health risks. In turn, high levels of estrogen found in menstrual suppression pills have been linked, though not conclusively, to an increased risk of blood clots, stroke and heart attack.
- reproductive health risks. Experts warn that menstrual suppression pills have many risks for a woman’s reproductive health. Menstruation helps to expel harmful substances from the body, such as toxins and bacteria, thereby providing a natural cleansing system for the body.
Menstrual Suppression and Fertility: Do Menstrual Suppression Pills Affect Female Fertility?
As of yet, there have not been any studies that have followed the long-term effects of menstrual suppression pills on a woman’s fertility or whether or not they might affect her ability to get pregnant or have a successful pregnancy.
However, some experts point to the dangers associated with hormone replacement therapy (HRT), such as an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, blood clots and breast cancer, which were not known until after millions of women had used HRT for menopause treatment.
These experts state that menstruation suppression pills do likely impact fertility because menstruation protects women against infertility, as well as sexually transmitted diseases, by flushing out the reproductive system of pathogens, sperm-borne toxins and bacteria.