It’s not a health problem — it’s by choice. Should you go against the flow too?
Last weekend I was at a friend’s party—all girls, lots of wine—and the topic of periods came up. I confessed I haven’t had one in years, and several women said, “Me too!” The rest of the crowd was stunned, so I explained what I’d learned from my health-reporting years at Glamour: Suppressing periods (by skipping the placebo pills at the end of a cycle and going straight to a fresh pack, or by using a continuous hormonal birth control method like Seasonale) is not only safe to do; it even makes you less likely to develop certain cancers, research shows. If it hadn’t been 10:00 P.M., my friends would’ve been calling their gynos that minute.
It’s a common trend: A recent study at the University of Oregon found that 17 percent of young women are skipping periods. That’s one in six, a number researchers call “way more prevalent than we expected.” Even tampon sales are down: Americans bought 371 million—or 6.5 percent—fewer in 2012 than in 2007. “Women used to look at me like I had three heads when I mentioned skipping periods, but now they have friends doing it,” says Glamour contributor Katharine O’Connell White, M.D., chief of the division of general obstetrics and gynecology at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts. Considering it? Here’s what you should know.
A full 53 percent of period skippers in the Oregon study were doing it without their doctor’s input. That’s risky: You shouldn’t, for instance, use triphasic pills (like Ortho Tri-Cyclen) or the Patch to skip periods, warns Dr. O’Connell White; continuous use of triphasic pills leads to irregular bleeding, and “using the Patch without breaks puts you at risk for blood clots,” she says. Instead, use pills like Seasonique and Seasonale, which winnow your periods down to four a year, or just skip the dummies on a regular monophasic pill. Same with the ring—bypass the off week and insert a new one right away. At least half of women on the Mirena IUD and Depo-Provera shot stop having periods. “But we don’t know if you’ll be one of them until you try,” adds Dr. O’Connell White.
It’s common for this to happen in the first few months of taking the Pill continuously, research shows. Even with breakthrough bleeding, though, 86 percent of skippers are happy overall.
Your insurance needs to know what’s up
If your birth control is covered now, it generally will be when you go period-free. But your doc must write “take continuously” on your prescription and give you extra refills so you don’t run out. (If you opt out of your period for a year, for example, you’ll go through 16 packs or rings, not 12.)
You may actually be better protected against pregnancy
Some women hesitate to skip cycles because they like visual proof in the form of a period that they’re not preggers. But, says Dr. O’Connell White, “if you’re always on the Pill, you’re less likely to get pregnant than when you take a week off. Taking it every day usually means you’re less likely to miss one or start a pack late.” If you like the reassurance, cool. But there’s no medical reason you need a period, she says. And “for many women, it’s like, If I don’t need it, why have it?”
I've used the softcups just for that reason. You can't feel them but depending on how big your partner is he may feel it. When I used them years ago with my ex, he said he couldn't feel it. Now my current SO says he can feel it, but they definitely keep things from getting messy...
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