Periods are Optional. Here’s the Why and How.

It’s a common misconception that taking the sugar pills in a birth control pack is mandatory and that getting periods is a necessary part of womanhood. In reality, for people that have had regular periods for more than two years, there is no medical necessity to menstruate every month—and it’s not a defining aspect of womanhood either.

In fact, some health experts believe you may be healthier without them.

(Pandia Health)

The benefits of a period-free life should not be taken lightly. Periods can be more than a minor inconvenience: Medical conditions such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, menstrual migraines and dysmenorrhea are exacerbated by periods. Skipping periods has also been shown to decrease the risk of both endometrial and ovarian cancers.

For those suffering from endometriosis, a condition causing endometrial tissue to grow outside of the uterus, period suppression can be a practical and life-altering form of treatment. Endometriosis causes chronic pelvic pain and infertility in up to 50 percent of those suffering, making period suppression with birth control pills the ideal means not only for reducing pain but also for restraining endometrial growth.

But period suppression is not just reserved for those with medical conditions. Dr. Sophia Yen, CEO and co-founder of Pandia Health—the only female- and doctor-led online birth control company—believes in the importance of educating all people who get periods about the possibility of having a period-free life. “We are passionate about making women’s lives better and educating women about the options for controlling their unnecessary monthly bleeds,” Yen told Ms.

Periods can present a legitimate financial, sanitary, and emotional burden. They’re expensive for those without access to or uncomfortable with diva cups and a health risk for those with limited access to clean bathrooms.

The #PeriodsOptional movement attempts to educate all about the freedom and benefits inherent in using birth control to skip periods. (Pandia Health)

Economic opportunity can also be significantly impacted by periods. In many countries, it’s common for some to miss days of work because of pain. And particularly in countries where access to clean facilities is limited—where 500 million women and girls lack access to adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management—period suppression provides a practical and healthy solution.

The period-optional movement can also drastically increase women’s participation in school and work. One of the top reasons women under the age of 25 miss school or work is their periods, a topic discussed in-depth in award-winning documentary, “Period. End of Sentence.”

Yen takes it a step further: Skipping periods is an option for all people, not just those that feel burdened financially, emotionally, and medically from their periods, but also for those who simply want to opt out.

“The only reason a woman bleeds each month is because she didn’t get pregnant,” Yen told Ms. “Why waste your body’s resources building a lining and then shedding it each month if you are not trying to ‘catch an embryo’?  We have #BetterThingsToDo than to bleed each month. Life is better with less blood loss.

“If we can share #PeriodsOptional with anyone with a uterus that is bleeding every four weeks or so, we can change their lives … we can raise half the sky.”


Greta Baxter is currently working as a summer editorial intern at Ms. Magazine. While majoring in Political Science and Law at Sciences Po Paris she was the anglophone culture section editor of her schools newspaper, The Sundial Press, and the head of editing and visuals of HeforShe Sciences Po. As a passionate intersectional feminist, she is especially interested in the relationship between gender and health as well as how gender bias and discrimination is embedded in political and legal systems. When she is not talking about gender and looking at what steps forward and backward are being made around the world, she is probably arguing about why sweet breakfast foods are superior to savory breakfast foods. You can follow her on Twitter!