Women's preferences for menstrual bleeding frequency in 12 European countries: the Inconvenience Due to Women's Monthly Bleeding (ISY) survey

Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2017 Aug;22(4):268-273. doi: 10.1080/13625187.2017.1334258. Epub 2017 Jun 26.


Objectives: Our aim was to assess the level of inconvenience associated with menstrual bleeding and determine how many women across 12 European countries 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 conducted in two waves among 5728 women aged between 18 and 45 years, with an equal distribution of women using a combined hormonal contraceptive (CHC group, n = 2739) and women using a non-hormonal contraceptive or no contraceptive (non-HC group, n = 2989). The first wave was carried out in Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Poland and Spain, in February 2015, and the results have been published. The second wave was conducted in the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Portugal, Latvia and the Netherlands, between August and September 2015.

Results: The menstrual period was significantly longer (5.0 versus 4.6 days) and heavier (15 versus 7%) in non-HC users than in CHC users (p < .0001). Given the choice, ∼60% of women would like less frequent menstrual bleeding. There was heterogeneity in the preference across countries. Sexuality, social life, work and sporting activities were key factors affecting women's preference.

Conclusion: The majority of women in the 12 European countries would prefer to reduce the frequency of menstrual periods. Quality of life was the main factor affecting their preference.

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

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Attitude to Health
  • Contraception / methods*
  • Contraception / psychology*
  • Contraception, Barrier
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Combined
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menstrual Cycle / physiology
  • Menstrual Cycle / psychology
  • Menstruation / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Preference / psychology*
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Contraceptives, Oral, Combined