Women's preferences for menstrual bleeding frequency: results of the Inconvenience Due to Women's Monthly Bleeding (ISY) survey

Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2016 Jun;21(3):242-50. doi: 10.3109/13625187.2016.1154144. Epub 2016 Mar 24.


Objectives: Our aim was to assess the level of inconvenience associated with monthly bleeding, determine how many women would prefer a bleeding frequency of less than once a month, and what would motivate their choice.

Methods: A 15-min quantitative online survey was carried out among 2883 women aged between 18 and 45 years in six European countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Poland and Spain).

Results: Of those surveyed, 1319 women used a combined hormonal contraceptive (CHC group) and 1564 used a non-hormonal contraceptive or no contraceptive (non-HC group). The menstrual period was significantly longer (5 vs. 4.5 days), heavier (16% vs. 8% heavy menstrual flow) and associated with more symptoms (6.1 vs. 5.6) in non-HC users than in CHC users (p < 0.0001). More than half of the women in each group reported pelvic pain, bloating/swelling, mood swings and irritability, but the rate was significantly higher in the non-HC group. Given the choice, 57% of women in both groups said they would opt for longer intervals between periods. Sexuality, social life, work and sporting activities were key factors affecting their decision.

Conclusions: The majority of women would prefer to have menstrual periods less than once a month, with a frequency ranging from once every 3 months to no periods at all. This can be explained by the desire to avoid the unpleasant aspects of menstruation and its negative impact on private and professional life.

Keywords: Attitudes; menstrual bleeding; menstrual symptoms; oral contraception; preferences.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amenorrhea / psychology*
  • Contraception / adverse effects
  • Contraception / methods
  • Contraceptive Agents / adverse effects
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal / adverse effects
  • Emotions
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Menstruation / physiology*
  • Menstruation / psychology*
  • Menstruation Disturbances / epidemiology
  • Menstruation Disturbances / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Preference / psychology*
  • Time
  • Women's Health
  • Young Adult


  • Contraceptive Agents
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal