Menstrual suppression: the bleeding edge of birth control?
Menstrual suppression is becoming a more and more common idea. Depo-provera, a birth control method delivered via injection, was one of the first birth control methods to lessen menstruation to the point where, after a year or so of use, most women stopped menstruating altogether. The birth control pill has often been prescribed to women with “dysfunctional uterine bleeding,” or heavy and painful periods, to lessen their menstrual flow. In 2003, Sesonale debuted, marketed as the pill which frees women from monthly menstruation, reducing periods to four times a year (a sister brand, Seasonique, was subsequently released). Barr Pharmaceuticals’ lauched fewerperiods.com, a website which trumpeted the idea of menstrual suppression as a woman’s choice.
Many pill users have been doing their own menstrual suppression for years, ignoring the seven inert pills at the end of their pack should an important date, like a wedding, honeymoon, or vacation, be approaching. Continuous hormone levels = continuous menstrual suppression. When the vacation was over, or after the wedding, the woman would simply let seven days go by at the end of her pack and start again with the next one. This is the same idea behind a new pill which claims to end periods, period: Wyeth’s Lybrel.
Wyeth announced yesterday that it expects to have FDA approval for Lybrel by May. Which would mean that soon women may be able to choose to have no periods at all. Wyeth sites research which found 2/3 of women would give up their periods if they could. Lybrel is designed to be taken every day without the traditional seven day break of the monthly birth control pill or the three-month dosage of Sesonale or Sesonique.
In a video posted on the NYTimes website, a woman is quoted as saying that her busy schedule “precluded her from going to the bathroom every few hours to take care of personal needs.” However, the same woman, a gynecologist with an Upper East Side practice, stated that today’s woman is getting more periods than ever before. In the past, women were pregnant more often or breast feeding, two natural menstrual suppressants, and had three or four periods a year, if that.
Is life really too busy to bleed, something women have been doing since we came into existence? Is a chemical suppressant to save those extra few hours or days where sex, exercise, or other activities might be curtailed due to bleeding really worth losing something that is seen by many as a rite of womanhood?
via New York Times