Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Brave New Pill

The pain sets in, and now it's only a matter of time before she comes.

Crimson wave, Auntie Flo, that time of the month: she's earned quite the name for herself.

She can ruin your beach plans (no one feels confident bloated in a bikini), restrict your inner fashionista (white pants are too risky to wear) and break the bank (tampons are expensive!).

But as much as she is an inconvenience sometimes, I don't think I'd feel like a real woman without her.

Yesterday the FDA approved the new birth control pill Lybrel, which completely eliminates women's monthly menstruation if taken regularly. The pill contains a combination of hormones -- estrogen and progestin -- which are used in commonly prescribed birth control pills.

Lybrel's differs because it does not provide a set of placebo pills to be taken at the end of the month. With traditional pills, women experience their "period" when they reach this week.

Many women are celebrating the new pill, excited for the new-found convenience of not having a period. This is the first pill on the market to completely stop menstruation.

The FDA approved Seasonale in September 2003, which extends the time a woman has between her periods. Seasonale users theoretically have a period only four times a year, once every 3 months.

But how is all of this safe?

According to the Seasonale website, the period you get when you're on birth control is not even a real period.

Because the pills prevent you from ovulating "your uterine lining doesn’t build up, so there’s no need to shed it." The bleeding comes from hormone withdraw.

So basically, birth control already stops your period.

But if you're only bleeding from withdraw, why even take the week off of the hormones?


Damnit. Lybrel beat us all to the punch.

I can't say I'm completely confident in that no periods are healthy. I mean, there has to be reason as to why “no-period” birth control wasn't created from the start. Maybe it's bad to have so many hormones constantly released in your system without break? Science scares me sometimes. My period stands as evidence that I am a young human woman, healthy and alive. To think we'll get rid of it all together just for convenience’s sake makes me wonder what could be next.

I just hope we all make a clean landing at the end of this slippery slope.

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