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Study Finds Women Purposely Changing Menstrual Cycles for Convenience

Update Date: May 10, 2013 02:26 PM EDT

Despite having the amazing ability to reproduce life, the monthly menstrual cycle can still take a toll on women's lives. According to a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Oregon's Department of Human Physiology, Oregon Health and Sciences University based in Portland, and Eastern Michigan University, a large amount of women have been altering their menstrual cycles on purpose. Surprisingly enough, the decision was not greatly influenced by symptoms, such as menstrual cramps and mood swings, but rather, for convenience.

The research team conducted a survey of undergraduate and graduate students in order to observe how many young women are in fact changing up their cycles. The researchers received around 1,719 responses with 1,374 of them stated that they had used an altered contraceptive method within the past six months. They discovered that 17 percent of the participants stated that they changed their menstrual schedules by not following the instruction labels of hormonal contraceptives, which encompasses birth control pills, transdermal contraceptive patches and vaginal contraceptive rings. The majority of the women stated to have deviated from the instructions due to convenience. Many of the people within this 53 percent of the sample set also said that they found out about this method from family or friends. 28.9 percent reported personal preference and only 16.7 percent cited symptoms as their reason.

"These findings emphasize the need for health care providers to carefully interview combined hormonal contraceptive users on how they are using their method - for example, many women may be skipping pills to extend their cycles," said researcher Christopher Minson. "With a greater understanding of the issues, health care providers may be able to more effectively engage in conversations with college-aged women and educate them about available options."

Although research has shown that decreasing the frequency of menstruation is safe, this study reveals that a lot of young girls are doing it without medical supervision. It is important to consult a medical professional and not simply listen to family and friends who may not know the possible risks of switching up contraceptives.

The study was published in Contraception.

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