The purpose of this study was to analyze the content of popular press articles about menstrual suppression, a relatively new and controversial health care option. Twenty-two American and Canadian articles, published before the FDA approval of Seasonale, were coded for basic information about and indications for menstrual suppression, viewpoints included, and coverage of risks and benefits. Menstrual suppression was most often recommended for women with menstrual disorders but was also recommended to menstruating women in general as a matter of convenience. Advocates of menstrual suppression were quoted twice as often as opponents. Monthly menstruation was frequently described as messy, inconvenient, bothersome, unhealthy, and unnecessary. From this analysis, we concluded that popular press coverage of menstrual suppression is insufficient and biased. The articles reflect and reinforce the taboo status and medicalization of menstruation. This coverage may have primed potential consumers to anticipate the FDA approval of Seasonale eagerly, to evaluate it uncritically, and to pursue it as a birth control and menstrual health option. Implications for research, health care providers, and menstrual activists are discussed.
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An earlier version of this paper was presented at the June 2003 meeting of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research, Pittsburgh, PA.
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Johnston-Robledo, I., Barnack, J. & Wares, S. “Kiss Your Period Good-Bye”: Menstrual Suppression in the Popular Press. Sex Roles 54, 353 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-006-9007-1
- Menstrual suppression
- Popular press