Should You Get Rid of Your Period? A birth control pill can make your monthly flow disappear. But is that such a good idea? By Tiffany Blackstone[/B][/CENTER] Yes Leslie Miller, M.D., clinical associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, University of Washington in Seattle I haven't had a period for almost 12 years. Like many other female doctors, I've been skipping that monthly chore by taking hormone-filled birth control pills continuously. My health is excellent, and it's a pleasure not to have to worry about tampons, pads or hygiene. There is no medical reason why any woman needs to have a period, unless she's trying to get pregnant. Menstruating is the way your body expels the uterine lining that builds up each month in preparation for an egg to be fertilized. But if you're on hormonal birth control, the lining never builds up so there's nothing to expel-the only reason you do bleed is that a traditional 28-day Pill pack has seven no-hormone sugar pills. It's the absence of hormones in these pills that triggers the flow. Suppressing your period isn't only about convenience-it can end menstrual migraines, lessen mood swings and reduce the risk of anemia and vaginal infections. Something else to know: You don't need to take the new brand of period-suppression pills to skip your period. You can have your ob-gyn alter a prescription for just about any low-dose oral contraceptive to get this result. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other health organizations say period suppression is safe. Skipping periods is simply another reproductive choice for women-and the more choices we have, the better. Editor's note: Make sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist if your insurance will cover the pills; some plans are very strict regarding how many prescriptions can be filled in a month. You may need a specific diagnosis from your doctor (such as endometriosis or heavy menstruation) before insurance will agree to pay. No Christine Hitchcock, Ph.D., research associate, Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research, University of British Columbia in Vancouver Our periods aren't a disease that we need medication to get rid of-and they shouldn't be treated that way. In the past, doctors have prescribed continuous-hormone birth control pills to the relatively few women who have severe cycle-related pain or mood swings. But for most of us, periods are a pretty ordinary event and getting rid of them would be a matter of convenience. By banishing monthly bleeding, we give credence to the old-fashioned idea that women's menstruation is distasteful and something to be ashamed of. Aside from these philosophical objections, the new, no-bleeding pill, Lybrel, may not even stop periods completely for every woman. Trials found that after a year, 40 percent of women on Lybrel still had unexpected spotting, and about 20 percent bled enough to need tampons or pads. There are other concerns too: While most ob-gyns say period suppression is safe, and the FDA did approve the new pill, even proponents admit that we don't know what the long-term effects of taking hormones nonstop may be. What's more, skipped periods are the number-one way women know they're pregnant; if you're not expecting a flow, it may take you longer to find out that a pregnancy has occurred. The bottom line: We simply don't know enough about period suppression, and for the vast majority of us who don't have period problems, the pros don't outweigh the cons.