The FDA just approved a new birth control pill, called Lybrel. It's designed to allow women to suppress their periods indefinitely by providing a continuous low dose of hormones all month. It's being manufactured by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and is poised to hit the market in July.
From ABC News -
From ABC News -
"Lybrel, a name meant to evoke "liberty," would be the fourth new oral contraceptive that doesn't follow the standard schedule of 21 daily active pills, followed by seven sugar pills -- a design meant to mimic a woman's monthly cycle. Among the others, Yaz and Loestrin 24 shorten monthly periods to three days or less and Seasonique, an updated version of Seasonale, reduces them to four times a year."Something about this just makes me sad. I know it sounds silly, but I really miss having my period. Yeah, yeah, I know. I remember the cramps and the water retention and the bloating...and the zits.(ugh) It was a drag some of the time. But it was also a very powerful thing. It meant that I was a woman and it was a natural part of life.
Our society looks on this amazing thing us women can do as a "curse" and that's just not cool. It is not a curse. It is not shameful. It is not something to discuss via embarrassed whispers in the ladies room, damn-it! If men could could bleed continuously for five days and live to tell the tale every month do you really think it would be a shameful thing? Hell no, there would be parades and national holidays devoted to the phenomenon. C'mon people have you seen the Washington monument? Uh-huh.
So, now we have a pill that will eradicate this icky, shameful, awful thing us gals have to put up with every month. That's just great.
I particularly enjoyed this passage from the ABC article.
She [Dr. Mindy Wiser-Estin] has seen a big increase in the last year in patients asking about it, but has one concern that leads her to encourage younger women to take a break every 12 weeks. About 1 percent of oral contraceptive users become pregnant each year, and young women taking continuous pills who have never been pregnant may not recognize the symptoms, she said. "They may not know it in time to do something about it," Wiser-Estin said.
Wyeth obviously thinks otherwise. (I'll bet they do. ah-hem)
"It allows women to put their menstrual cycle on hold" and reduces 17 related symptoms, from irritability to bloating, said Dr. Amy Marren, director of clinical affairs for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.
Call me cynical, but I don't think Wyeth has our best interests at heart here. That quote sounds like she read it off of the pamphlet for one thing. For another, they are set to make a considerable amount of money off of convincing us that our periods are unneccesary, obsolete functions that we would all be better off without. I find it disturbing that this pill creates a situation where a woman is so out of touch with her body that she may not notice that she's pregnant. This does not sound like a great idea to me.
Slate.com had this intersting little tid-bit back on Oct. 18, 2006
"In two different surveys of college women, Ingrid Johnston-Robledo, associate professor of psychology and women's studies at the State University of New York, College at Fredonia, found that women who were asked to name positive aspects of menstruation reported that it was a sign of health and fertility and that it helped connect them to other women and the rhythms of nature. This may sound like an ode to the inner moon goddess, but it has relevance. Johnston-Robledo found that women who didn't like their periods were also more ashamed of their bodies."
I know there are women who have terrible cramps and pain every month who may be looking forward to this new pill. I understand why they would want to take this. I just hope that they do it it responsibly and with great care.
I personally wouldn't take one of these things if you paid me to.