With the advent of extended cycle contraception (continuous birth control pills such as Seasonale), lots of women are talking about whether or not to have periods. 72 percent of women surveyed say they donít like having periods, and 40 percent would prefer to never have one.† But 50 percent said they would never consider suppressing menstruation with hormones.† In fact, I was just interviewed by Body & Soul magazine regarding this very issue, and itís such a juicy topic, I wanted to share with you some thoughts, in case youíre one of those women trying to figure out whether to bleed or not to bleed.
The History of Menstrual Frequency
First, a history lesson.† Back when we were cave people, women didnít bleed much. Sure, they menstruated, but not very often. They started getting periods late (as we have evolved, the age of first menstruation has gotten younger and younger- we suspect as a result of environmental estrogens found in pesticides, plastics and other toxic substances). They spent the majority of their reproductive life either pregnant or nursing, thus no periods. And they died long before menopause.
The Average Number of Menstrual Cycles a Woman Will Have In Her Lifetime
But the advent of birth control in modern life means women bleed more than they ever have because they can choose how many pregnancies they will have. On average, a woman will have two pregnancies and breastfeed for about 6 months. As recently as the 1900ís, a woman was statistically only likely to have 1-2 menses/year. Now, things have changed. In modern life, women experience an average of 450 menstrual cycles in their lifetime, compared to only 160 cycles for the preĖIndustrial Revolution woman.
Next page: Are Periods Good or Bad?