As millions of women and girls take shots and pills to stop their periods, the meaning of menstruation changes. Current marketing of hormonal birth control (Depo-Provera, Seasonale, Seasonique, Lybrel, Anya) attracts customers by promising freedom from monthly periods. For many consumers, menstrual suppression eliminates painful monthly flow, giving them more control in their lives. For others, menstrual suppression represents a frightening shift in thinking about the human body and another dangerous experiment on woman’s health. Period: The End of Menstruation? interrogates the cultural and medical side effects of suppression before 'the curse' disappears.
"At the alternative Bluestockings Bookstore on the Lower East Side of Manhattan early this month, several dozen women gathered for the New York premiere of Period: The End of Menstruation?,” Ms. Chesler’s hourlong documentary. It explores the idea of suppressing the menstrual period but leaves the viewer to make up her own mind." S. Saul, The New York Times
"Chesler offers a dialogue here that is relentlessly intelligent, ecumenical, and profoundly sensitive to the varying perspectives of women and girls who must ultimately make their own menstrual choices." S. May, Bust Magazine
"Period: The End of Menstruation? is a powerful work in which Chesler examines female response to the new pharmaceutical phenomenon of menstrual suppression, and more importantly, opens up conversation about the still unknown medical and emotional consequences of making such a choice." A. Chase, Afterimage
Director / Producer Giovanna Chesler utilizes methods of direct cinema, cinema verite, and poetic construction to construct her 16mm film. Ms. Chesler and her crew met with over 50 participants around the United States to understand the variety of viewpoints on this complex topic. Period highlights these health practitioners, cultural critics, artists, activists. Several of these individuals impact the future of menstruation trends while others are directly affected by these trends. Some see menstruation as an essential element of the female body and experience. Others believe that menstruation is not necessary. One doctor extols the benefits of Seasonale, a pill designed to allow only four bleeding episodes each year (which generated $50 million in sales in one year.) Another participant explains that hormonal suppressants can lead to loss of bone density and osteoporosis in young women. Side effects include depression, cardiac ailments, blood clots, break through bleeding and loss of libido.
recommended in 2005 edition
Period equates the experiences and opinions of every day Americans to medical knowledge. Women and men of diverse ethnic communities, of varying sexual orientations are included in the film alongside the health practitioners and theorists. We meet an African American woman in San Diego who was so troubled by her period that she chose to have a hysterectomy at age 33, We see a white urban professional in her late 20’s getting a shot of Depo Provera. She tells us that she has not menstruated in three years. However, a transman living in New York City chooses to keep his period and claims it as part of his masculinity, and an artist in San Francisco paints with her menstrual blood.
What is healthy and normal? What is female and private? What is natural?
Period addresses these complex questions and more. Period: The End of Menstruation? makes a taboo subject visible and audible, serving as a beginning to much needed public conversation and bringing attention to a pressing women’s health issue that affects millions of menstruators on a national and global scale.
"[Period] opens a much needed dialogue on what women are experiencing in this day and age with their periods and birth control. A woman can make the best choice for her body regarding her menstrual cycle when she is knowledgeable about all her choices and the effects of these choices on her body. Period: The End of Menstruation? helps us to look at these choices." - Joan Morais, author of A Time to Celebrate: A Celebration of a Girl's First Menstrual Period
Press & Reviews
New York Times Feature Article
April 20, 2007
Signs review, Fall 2010
UK Guardian, Oct 2, 2009
Afterimage, Nov-Dec 2008
USA Today, Life Section, June 11, 2007
Spoiler Alert Radio Interview, May 2007
Canadia Women's Health Network, Sp/Smr 07
Rue 89, May 5, 2007 (French)
El Mundo , April 23, 2007 (Spanish)
KUSI Inside San Diego, April 23, 2007
Bust Magazine, The guide:Movies p.100, Dec/Jan06/07
Video Librarian gives Period 3 stars!
"Period talk" in Citybeat San Diego by Kinsee Morlan
Interview with Giovanna Chesler in vagina verite
Our Bodies Ourselves 2005 edition recommends Period: The End of Menstruation?