The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved the first birth control pill that completely eliminates a woman's monthly period. Taken daily, the pill, called Lybrel, continuously administers slightly lower doses of the same hormones in many standard birth control pills to constantly suppress menstruation. This will be the first and only oral contraceptive designed to be taken 365 days a year, allowing women to put their periods on hold. Studies showed Lybrel is as effective at preventing pregnancy as standard birth control pills and completely suppresses menstruation for many women within the first year, although some women experience sporadic bleeding.
The pill's approval was welcomed by birth control advocates for providing women with another option. "Every woman's birth control needs are different, and the best methods are those that fit a woman's lifestyle and meet her needs," Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Critics questioned whether enough research had been done to be sure it is safe to suppress menstruation long term. "There may be important health consequences that we don't know about," said an endocrinology researcher. "I don't think we understand everything that the menstrual cycle does well enough to say with confidence that you can abolish it and not have any consequences." Others criticized the pill for fueling biases and misconceptions about menstruation. "It perpetuates a lot of negative attitudes and taboos about menstruation -- that it's something that's bothersome and dirty and debilitating and shameful."
The FDA said there is no evidence of any long-term risks and that suppressing the menstrual cycle can have many benefits, especially for women who are plagued by cramps, bloating and mood swings.
Others said menstrual suppression could actually have some health benefits. For eons, women had few periods because they were either pregnant or breast-feeding for most of their reproductive lives. "We weren't supposed to have 13 natural periods year after year after year," said an obstetrician-gynecologist. "We as a society have already changed what nature intended for us."
The pill isn't for everyone, the FDA said. About half the women enrolled in studies of Lybrel dropped out, many because of irregular and unscheduled bleeding and spotting that can replace scheduled menstruation. Because women taking Lybrel may not know if they are pregnant, the FDA said women taking it should undergo pregnancy tests regularly.
I know my girl Sarah will have some things to say about this. In my layman's opinion it doesn't seem right not to menstruate. And of course we don't know long term effects because we haven't study it "long" term - one year doesn't count. There is also increased risk of certain cancers when taking birth control so will the risks be even higher from taking hormones everyday? I just think it's unnatural to not have a period. Maybe this will be the first step to change the evolutionary cycle and will allow men to bear children!
What do you think???