Menstrual Suppression for Rocket Scientists

Summary and Comment |
May 11, 2016

Menstrual Suppression for Rocket Scientists

  1. Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, MD, MS

Medically induced amenorrhea is an important component of mission readiness — as well as life down on Earth.

  1. Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, MD, MS

Female astronauts are exposed to harsh conditions that make menstruation undesirable; in addition, pregnancy is contraindicated for many preflight training activities and for spaceflight itself. These authors conducted a systematic review to provide up-to-date, evidence-based information about options for menstrual suppression and contraception in female astronauts.

Based on results of terrestrial studies, the levonorgestrel intrauterine system and subdermal contraceptive implant were identified as highly effective choices that have the added advantage of minimizing “upmass” (feminine hygiene products and packaging that become trash).

Comment

Although few of us provide healthcare for female astronauts, work environments in which menstruation is an advantage are highly uncommon. Moreover, despite the wide variety of therapeutic approaches to menstrual suppression, many teens continue to miss school because of uncontrolled menstrual cramps (NEJM JW Womens Health May 2016 and Obstet Gynecol 2016; 127:699). I reassure my patients that there's no “need to bleed” unless pregnancy is desired. I also encourage intrauterine and subdermal options for menstrual suppression even when women are not sexually active with men.

Editor Disclosures at Time of Publication

  • Disclosures for Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, MD, MS at time of publication Grant / Research support Office of Adolescent Health Editorial boards Contraception; Journal of General Internal Medicine

Citation(s):

Your Comment

(will not be published)

Filtered HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Do you have any conflict of interest to disclose?
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Vertical Tabs

* Required

Reader comments are intended to encourage lively discussion of clinical topics with your peers in the medical community. We ask that you keep your remarks to a reasonable length, and we reserve the right to withhold publication of remarks that do not meet this standard.

PRIVACY: We will not use your email address, submitted for a comment, for any other purpose nor sell, rent, or share your e-mail address with any third parties. Please see our Privacy Policy.