Do Women Need Periods?

do women need periods

With the news that women don’t need pill-bleeds came the headline “Women don’t need periods,” which is completely wrong.

It’s true that women don’t need pill-bleeds because pill-bleeds are not periods. But women do need natural menstrual cycles, and here’s why.

Natural ovulatory menstrual cycles are how women make estrogen and progesterone, which are beneficial for general health, not just for making a baby. According to Professor Jerilynn Prior, “Regular menstrual cycles with consistently normal ovulation during the [reproductive] years will prevent osteoporosis, breast cancer and heart disease.”

Tip: 👉 The contraceptive drugs of birth control are not hormones and do not have the same benefits.

Just as testosterone benefits men’s general health, so do estrogen and progesterone benefit women’s.

To say that women don’t need ovulation except to make a baby would be like saying that men don’t need testosterone except to make a baby.

Ovulation is how women make hormones.

It’s the cycle and hormones that are beneficial, not the bleed. The bleed is only an inevitable outcome of an ovulatory cycle because, in general, it’s not possible to ovulate but then not go on to have a bleed (except in the case of pregnancy, hysterectomy, or the hormonal IUD.)

Natural cycles are possible with the hormonal IUD

The hormonal IUD (Mirena) is unique in that, unlike all other types of hormonal birth control, it does not suppress ovulation.

In other words, the hormonal IUD permits ovulatory cycling and the production of estrogen and progesterone; it only suppresses the bleed. This is in stark contrast to the combined estrogen methods (e.g. the pill and Nuvaring), which suppress ovulatory cycling but induce a withdrawal bleed.

With the pill, women bleed but don’t ovulate.

With the hormonal IUD, women can ovulate but not bleed.

Do women need periods?

In summary, women don’t need periods if a period is defined as a bleed. And women certainly don’t need pill-bleeds because they’re not menstrual cycles. 

Women do need periods if a period is defined as a menstrual cycle because regular ovulatory menstrual cycles are how women make hormones

Dr Lara Briden
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