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This chapter sets the practice of hormonal menstrual suppression alongside strategies of menstrual management that have long been available to women, such as abortion or “bringing menstruation down”. Historical and cross-cultural work on the substances used by women to manage their menstrual cycles or “bring down menstruation” reveal the porosity of the boundaries between contraception, abortion and menstrual regulation. The chapter provides a detailed analysis of the discourse of menstrual suppression in Bahia where menstruation is widely discussed in terms of its naturalness or artificiality. These debates are particularly interesting in that they argue that biology is shaped by social life. Changing patterns of fertility associated to the entrance of women into the workforce are described by menstrual suppression advocates as exposing contemporary women to what is often referred to as “incessant” menstruation, an evolutionary and potentially hazardous remnant that can be “treated” hormonally. The chapter critically engages with the idea that women should be able to choose if and when to menstruate in light of the reasons they give for their choice. The practice appeals to an ideal of modernity, emblematized by a move out of nature made possible through technological intervention. Contemporary discussions of menstrual suppression center on whether menstruation is a defining feature of female bodies. Such assessments allude to an imagined human evolutionary past of fewer menstrual episodes used to legitimize a pharmaceutically-assisted return to nature.

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