What is menstrual suppression?
Menstrual suppression reduces menstruation to help with associated symptoms like pain or heavy bleeding. Menstrual suppression uses hormonal medications, which act on receptors located in the cells of the uterine lining, to keep the uterine lining thin. When the lining does not build up, it’s safe to not have menstrual periods.
Menstrual suppression treatments use medications known as hormonal therapies, which we can deliver in many ways, including in the form of a pill, skin patch, vaginal ring, injection or implant. All these options contain the hormone progestin, which is a form of progesterone, the hormone that affects menstrual cycles and pregnancy. Progestin causes the lining of the uterus to become thin so we can safely suppress menstrual bleeding.
Who should consider menstrual suppression?
Any child, teen or young adult with menstrual periods can consider using medication to safely reduce or stop their periods. Sometimes doctors suggest menstrual suppression for medical reasons like heavy periods, painful periods or endometriosis. Menstrual suppression can also help with other medical conditions that may get worse during menstrual periods such as headaches, seizures, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome and chronic pain.
Young women with physical or developmental disabilities may prefer to not have periods if personal hygiene is difficult. Finally, some may choose to have fewer or no menstrual periods because it’s their personal preference to not experience menstrual bleeding each month.
How should I prepare for menstrual suppression treatment?
You usually don’t need tests before starting menstrual suppression. Your doctor will take a careful medical and gynecologic history before recommending or prescribing treatment. You won’t need a pelvic exam before starting menstrual suppression.
Menstrual suppression takes time to regulate and stop menstrual bleeding. Unexpected bleeding is most common in the first three months but can continue for longer. At Children’s Hospital Colorado, we will continue to work with you until you are satisfied with your treatment.
What should I expect during menstrual suppression treatment?
Different options for menstrual suppression will give you a different experience. Your doctor will work with you to find the best method based on your medical history. Most teens have no side effects or minimal side effects depending on which option they choose. Menstrual suppression typically takes 3 to 6 months before periods stop completely.
What should I expect after menstrual suppression treatment?
You can use menstrual suppression treatments as long as you like and stop at any time. Many teens continue to have difficult menstrual periods through their adult years, so it’s important to speak with your doctor before stopping treatment.
Using medication for menstrual suppression does not affect a woman’s ability to have a baby later. When a woman stops her medication, periods will return.