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

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~ by Lola on April 20, 2007.

4 Responses to “Menstrual suppression: the bleeding edge of birth control?”

  1. Seriously, the answer is yes…Life is too important to bleed…maybe not to everyone, but definitely to some.

    As someone who never intends to have children, raging hormones and menstrual cramps seem entirely unnecessary to me. I have hormonally surpressed for over 10 years, and think my life is better for it. The idea did not come from a drug company but rather from my gynecologist who said that “most women doctors do it because unless one is desiring fertility (which many do, but some don’t) there is no reason to suffer.” I question rather, why this has taken so long for pharmaceuticals to promote…or the majority of doctors to tell their patients about as an option…

  2. I agree, the answer is a resounding YES!
    I have three children, and I don’t plan on having anymore.
    I HATE my period. HATE IT, and everything about it. To the point that I feel like bursting into tears when I know that time of the month is coming around. When Seasonale first came around, I was one of the first to jump on the band wagon for it.
    My only complaint was that when I first started it, my body didn’t adjust well the hormones and I was one of those unlucky 1 in 3 women who bled for more than 30 days heavily and continuously. It did eventually stop though, and I was period free for over a year…until I decided to get pregnant again and then didn’t go back on birth control afterwards.

    I am so excited that this is finally becoming a well accepted practice. There is no need to be miserable. There is no reason to put ourselves through it. It is unfair to feel restricted, and dread a certain week coming up.
    Especially with all the hormones in the milk these days forcing our young girls to start developing and entering puberty so much earlier…would you really want your daughter having her period at age 10? My best friend’s little girl who is now 12 has been on Seasonale with the very close supervision of a doctor for two years now because of this reason.

    I personally can not wait to start using Lybrel. There are going to be a lot more happier women running around because of it!

  3. I think people are crazy. We are women, we have our cycles for a reason and chemical surpression is stupid. It natural stop crying and deal with it.

  4. i think it’s an fantastic thing, but is it really healthy? there has to be a down side to this!

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