Women Worry About Period-Eliminating Pill

By Monique Frausto

For some women, having their menstrual cycle is more that just
water retention and headaches. When trying to have a social life,
working or studying for midterms, a period can be a nuisance.

“Honestly, I think it’s how society is structured that makes a
period [more] frustrating than the period itself,” said Carla
Jackson, a health educator with Student Health Services. “In our
society you don’t get time off when you get your period-you just

There may soon be a solution to the frustrations that accompany
the menstrual cycle. At the end of last year, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals
introduced Lybrel, a birth control pill that may eliminate a
woman’s period.

According to a New York Times article published April 20, Wyeth
expects the new drug to be approved by the Food and Drug
Administration this May.

Melanie Sohn, a fourth-year kinesiology student, has mixed
feelings about this new form of birth control.

“I think this is something that is desirable to a lot of female
students,” said Sohn. “But I would be really skeptical about the
risks involved and I don’t think I would trust it.”

In the spring of 2006, the American College Health Association
released the National College Health Assessment on its Web site and
reported that 39 percent of female students use birth control

On their Web site, the FDA first approved oral contraceptives in
1960. The main concern some women have with a product like Lybrel
is the possibility of altering the female body.

This isn’t the first type of birth control to raise

Barr Pharmaceuticals recently introduced Seasonale. This oral
contraceptive gives a woman only four periods a year.

Many might question if this is a healthy way to be period

“A menstrual cycle is necessary if you are going to conceive. It
can be some indication of what is going on in your endocrine
system. Having regular periods ensures that this is all in
balance,” said Jackson.

Jackson doesn’t believe that Lybrel could be any riskier than
the other types of birth control currently on the market.

“If a woman who doesn’t get her period normally, starts taking
the pill and gets her period, it’s still not considered her
period,” said Jackson. “It’s not her body doing it. It’s the
chemical in the pill.”

Women in the past started their period’s later in life and had a
lot fewer periods than younger generations do, according to
Jackson. This could be due to the older generation’s nutrition,
shorter life expectancy, frequent pregnancies, and breastfeeding

She said that having fewer periods wouldn’t be considered

Jackson said the synthetic hormones found in existing birth
control trigger women to have a period in a regular cycle but this
is not their natural menstruation pace.

Current birth control methods already alter the menstruation
process and just because Lybrel would cause a different type of
change, it doesn’t necessarily make it any more or less

“Is taking a birth control pill where you believe you get your
period every month better than this Lybrel which suppresses
menstruation completely?” asked Jackson. “Probably not.”

Jackson wouldn’t recommend this type of birth control to all
women who want to eliminate their periods.

But, if this is something a woman is interested in for medical
reasons, then this is something they should explore.

According to a Wyeth press release, the side effects of taking
this pill were the same as any other pill.

During the average 28-day menstrual cycle, the world doesn’t
stop for the many symptoms associated with pre-menstrual syndrome.
These symptoms can range from average to extremely painful.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, reports
on their Web site, that 85 percent of women who menstruate suffer
at least one pre-menstrual symptom.

On Wyeth’s Web site, they claim Lybrel will allow a woman to
reduce the hormonal fluctuations associated with the entire
menstrual cycle.

The possibility of negative side effects with contraceptives
like Lybrel is the prime concern for consumers.

However, the FDA approval may encourage more women to consider

“I think it could be really popular if it’s proven to be safe
and effective,” said Sohn. “I guess it could do more good than

Monique Frausto can be reached by e-mail at arts@thepolypost.com
or by phone at (909) 869-3744.

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