I know that there is medication to prevent the menstrual cycle, but what side-effects does this entail?

Does regularly supressing the menstrual cycle pose any health risks to female astronauts?

If the female astronaut's period was allowed to continue, how would zero-Gee conditions effect it?

As a wider question, is it necessary for a woman to menustrate at all (a question I have asked myself many times!)?

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    $\begingroup$ This is honestly a fantastic question. $\endgroup$ Jun 11, 2015 at 18:57
  • $\begingroup$ It's been bugging me for quite a few years to be honest xD $\endgroup$
    – Mikasa
    Jun 11, 2015 at 18:57
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    $\begingroup$ I remember a passage from Mike Mullane's autobiography, Riding Rockets, where a problem was caused by a packet of tampons spilling into the cabin during STS-41-D in 1984. It's only one data point, and I'm sure there are better sources but I'll have a dig thought the book again. Astronaut biographies are often full of interesting stories that somehow missed the official reports. $\endgroup$ Jun 11, 2015 at 19:31

1 Answer 1


Women astronauts have plenty of tampons available (presumably pads as well). As with other zero-G hygiene issues, I would guess that patience and wet wipes are indispensable.

Hormonal contraceptives can (somewhat unreliably) suppress menstruation entirely -- a woman who normally uses typical oral contraceptives could probably just skip her placebo week to delay her period on a short space mission.

It's unclear what the long term health effects of use of e.g. Depo-Provera or Norplant are; Depo usually stops menstruation for three months or longer at a stretch.

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    $\begingroup$ Could you add details answering another facet of this question ; do they suppress it or not? $\endgroup$ Jun 12, 2015 at 4:09
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    $\begingroup$ No, I could not. $\endgroup$ Jun 12, 2015 at 5:13
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    $\begingroup$ @vedant - any physician will tell you that’s going to be highly variable patient to patient. There’s also a large trade off between progesterone-only suppression, which is less effective but carries low risk of vascular complications, vs estrogen-containing options. For highest likelihood of fully suppressing menstruation, an estrogen containing OCP is preferred, but the trade-off is a patient-specific choice informed by other risk factors. Any medication used long-term on orbit is ground trialed in the months prior to launch so we have some expectations set for efficacy and side effects. $\endgroup$
    – JPattarini
    Dec 28, 2018 at 14:41

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