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National Survey: Choosing When to Menstruate: The Role of Extended Contraception

National Survey
July-August 2002 Harris Poll Results

During the weeks of June 1417 and July 1822, 2002, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP) surveyed 491 women between the ages of 18 and 49 to understand women's preferences about frequency and characteristics of menstrual bleeding in relation to reproductive status and oral contraceptive use. The statistical accuracy is +/- 4.5 percentage points.

Some trends of interest:

  • When asked if their period let them know whether or not they are "healthy" more than two-thirds of women surveyed said no.
  • Given the opportunity to determine how frequently they would menstruate, 44% of all women surveyed would prefer never to menstruate, and this number increases to 59% for women ages 4049.
  • More than one in four women responding said their period, menstrual cramps, or other menstrual effects have caused them to miss professional, social, athletic, or family-oriented events.
  • Seventy percent of women use or have used oral contraceptive pills in their lifetime.
  • Less than 20% of women surveyed have ever used oral contraceptives to delay or stop their period for any length of time.

1) Has PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome), your period, menstrual cramps, or other menstrual effect ever caused you to miss . . .

 
Yes
No
Not Sure
Decline to Answer
A professional commitment
24%
72%
1%
3%
A social event
29%
67%
*
4%
A physical or athletic opportunity
28%
68%
*
4%
Time with your friends or family
29%
67%
*
4%

2) Which of the following best describes you?

I have a light period 12%
I have an average period 46%
I have a heavy period 22%
I do not get my period any more 14%
Not sure 1%
Decline to answer 6%

3) Some women use their period as a way to let them know about various aspects of their health. Do you rely on your period to let you know . . .

 
Yes
No
Not Sure
Decline to Answer
If you are or are not pregnant
31%
62%
1%
5%
If you are able to have children
24%
69%
1%
5%
If you are or are not healthy
25%
70%
1%
4%

4) If you could choose the number of times you have your period each year while remaining healthy, what would be your preference?

Once a month 29%
Every other month 6%
Once every three months 7%
Once every six months 2%
Once a year 6%
Never 44%
Not sure 2%
Decline to answer 5%

5) Are you currently using or have you ever used oral contraceptives, also known as the birth control pill?

Yes, I currently use oral contraceptives 36%
Yes, I have used oral contraceptives in the past 34%
No 25%
Not sure 1%
Decline to answer 5%

6) Have you ever used oral contraceptives to delay or stop your period for any amount of time?

Yes
15%
No
79%
Not sure
1%
Decline to answer 5%