FDA Approves Birth Control That Eliminates Periods

The FDA has just approved a new type of birth control pill that totally eliminates your period, according to the WSJ. Trouble is, that idea freaks some consumers out. According to the WSJ Health Blog about half of women polled “agreed with the statement that their period comforts them because ‘it lets me know I am not pregnant.'” Poppycock, we say! Buy a pregnancy test.

It should also be noted in this completely biased and nonobjective post that the period you have when you’re using birth control isn’t a “real” period, it’s just bleeding caused by withdrawal .

Periods suck, bring on the pharmaceuticals. Better living through science.—MEGHANN MARCO

Daily Birth-Control Pill Could Change Monthly Cycle [WSJ Health Blog]

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  1. tinychicken says:

    God I wish I could. Unfortunately hormonal birth control in all forms makes me a psychopath. I’d like to avoid killing my friends and family. I just simply do not have the freezer space.

  2. LuvJones says:

    It would be nice if these researchers came up with something for men. Goddess forbid, men have to take something to stop the onslaught of little rugrats!

  3. CamilleR says:

    When I went on birth control, I insisted on the Depo shot because it was the only option at the time that had a really good chance of stopping my period. I’ve never been happier–no cramps, no migraines, no mess every month.
    The girls at work insist its bad birth control since without a period I can’t be sure I’m not pregnant. My argument is that I’m correctly using a birth control product so odds are very slim that I could get pregnant (not to mention I also use condoms to be safer from disease so the odds are even slimmer that I’ll have an unplanned pregnancy).

  4. Gloria says:

    Relying on a period to tell you whether you’re pregnant seems a bit iffy … it only comes once a month. Buy a test whenever you want. Simple.

  5. The HZA. says:

    But periods have served as handy excuses and out clauses.

  6. hemaphore says:

    so much for the rhythm method!
    (if anyone still uses that…)

  7. Kaien says:

    I can picure many women hearing the phrase, “no period” and they’ll raid their pharmacy just to get these pills. I think its a woman’s dream for many to hear that they won’t have periods.

  8. Falconfire says:

    Periods are a terrible way to tell if your pregnant or not. For one some people HAVE gotten their period and still been pregnant, and likewise many women dont get it and are not.

    If your using it right, and exhibit none of the signs (of which there are many) that your knocked up… chances are, your not knocked up.

  9. cgmaetc says:

    That’s not right. Cramps, headaches, bloating. mood swings, and irritability be damned: I still think you are supposed to have a period every month or two. How else will you know everything’s in working order?

  10. notebook says:

    Yay!
    No throwing up once a month, and feeling like clawing the nearest person’s eyeballs out, and having a RAVING chocolate obsession!
    A cheer, anyone?

  11. d0x says:

    @cgmaetc:

    im gonna have to agree with you, its one thing to prevent pregnancy by tricking your body into think its already pregnant..its totally different to stop nature all together.

    What happens when you’re on this pill for a year or two or 3 and suddenly…you never get a period again? You can never have children. Your body is no longer working properly.

    Telling nature no is never a good idea. Stopping something that is suppose to happen to the body every 30 or so days cant be healthy and i dont care if a Doctor says otherwise. There is a damn good reason Women evolved the way they did and if nature wants you to have a period every month you might want to listen.

  12. missdona says:

    If I took this pill, I would be in a permanent state of PMS. And that’s no good at all.

  13. Framling says:

    @LuvJones

    I had typed out a big thing about how I’d LOVE to take a pill instead of using condoms (since my wife’s anti-seizure meds don’t get along well with hormonal birth control), and it was all very angry, but then I found out that the U of Washington, right here in Seattle, has a freaking “Male Contraception Research Center” and now I just wanna get myself in on some trials.

  14. KitN says:

    Anything to keep my cranky “Aunt B” from visiting every month, eating all my icecream, downing all my chocolate, giving me a serious migrain, being a mess and a pain in the crotch? I’m all for it!

    Having a period is NOT “reassuring” and is NOT a good indicator of not being pregnant. Every single woman that I know that got pregnant has said that she had what she thought was her period and that she was “out of the woods” when in actuality it wasn’t her period but breakthrough bleeding: she was actually pregnant! So any woman who solely relies on having a period to be a real indicator that she isn’t pregnant isn’t all that wise… You should be using condoms in conjuntion with a pill/shot/patch not only to be near 100% sure that you won’t concieve but to also protect yourself from all those nasty STDs.

    P(M)S: They should really come up with a pill for MEN. Why is it that women are only 50% of the equation but are forced to deal with 100% of the hassle and responsibility?!?

  15. philosobrat says:

    @LuvJones:

    Well, they did try to come up with a Male Birth Control Pill. They tried it out at the same time that they did the trials for the female birth control. Three women died and one man experienced testicular shrinkage. As a result they abandoned the concept of a male birth control pill and just lowered the dose for women before releasing it to the market. Nothing like pumping your body full of 40,000 times the amount of hormones that you would normally have. Long live unbiased science!

  16. Kierst_thara says:

    I’ve been hearing a bunch of buzz about this in the last few days, and I’ve got to say that I don’t understand why this seems like such a new, foreign idea to people.

    I’ve been period-free on Depo Provera for the past five years, and I couldn’t be happier. One injection every three months, a 99.7% effectiveness rate, no daily pills to miss, combined with being in a long-term monogamous relationship is about as worry-free as sex gets these days.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think women should be supported in making whatever personal choices they feel comfortable with, and I also think that it’s important to have open dialogue about any hormonal drug’s risks and benefits, and to hold the pharmaceutical companies accountable for the long-term safety and other possible effects.

    On the other hand though, it seems like a lot of women have a very gut-level negative response to this idea that I just don’t really understand. To me, the quality of life improvement during that otherwise miserable 1 out of every 4 weeks, more than outweighs the very minor risk of undetected pregnancy or nebulous ‘loss of femininity’ that some women so concerned with.

  17. Elara says:

    Almost any birth control pill can be used to skip periods. This has been widely known for a long time. Just skip the green (or whatever color yours are) “dummy” pills that you take when you have your period and go straight to the next pack. I haven’t done any research on this (I have an IUD, which also has the added benefit of no period), but I’d guess that all this is is some form of “regular” BC pills with the placebos taken out.

    I find it rather amusing that this pill has “suddenly” been approved when women and their doctors have taken advantage of this benefit of the pill for years.

  18. alicetheowl says:

    The biggest problem I see with this is that we don’t have enough of a long-term view on this to know how it would affect things like cancer risk (or risk of other diseases and conditions).

    Also, to everyone calling this a freedom from all period-related symptoms: getting rid of the period doesn’t always get rid of the rest of the symptoms. I know several young women who, for medical reasons, don’t have any periods. They still get monthly cramps, their mood swings are worse, and they’re not much better off for not having a period, save the lack of hemorrhaging.

    I’d be interested in seeing some really long-term studies on these, but wouldn’t want to take them then, either. Turns out that the hormones in birth control pill give me a blood pressure reading of 170/120.

  19. chickymama says:

    I am part of the minority and would like to keep my periods. The main reason why is (for me anyways)it is a litmus test of what is going on with my reproductive organs. I had an ovarian cyst rupture and ever since I have paid more attention to my period. A period can tell you among other things if you have fibroids, are pregnant, endometriosis, pcos, you are stress etc…

    I know this is not the same for everybody. I too have known people or read stories of women who have had periods all throughout their pregnancy, but I think it comes down to one thing and that is what works best for your body.

  20. superlayne says:

    @d0x: I’m going to say you’re a man and your stupidity can be excused this once.

    I never plan on having kids. I’m not old enough for neutering, so this is great.

    Sure, everything might turn out like The Giver, but hell, that’s better than bleeding for a week.

  21. myls says:

    @d0x:

    Erm…if you are going on the pill you are stopping your period anyway. The bleeding is just there as a placebo, possibly to up Tampax stock? You *are* stopping nature altogether.

  22. kostia says:

    I routinely skip the placebo week of my pills just to avoid the hassle. The main reason I ever don’t is when it occurs to me that with my insurance, my birth control pills cost a dollar and twenty cents EACH, even the placebo ones, and throwing away a week of them feels wasteful. Tampons are cheaper.

    The last website I read about this new drug made the excellent point that since the advent of birth control in the ’30s (and not just hormonal birth control, any birth control), the average woman has four hundred and fifty periods. Before that, we spent most of our time either pregnant or breastfeeding, and the average woman had fifty periods. In her life. Total.

    I’ve had twenty years, so at least two hundred and forty. Mindblowing. If I can be done, I’m done.

  23. aujahlisa says:

    An author who I really enjoy reading wrote a short story about this. I recommend it mostly because it is an entertaining, amusing story, but also because it won the Hugo in 1993 for Best Short Story:
    Connie Willis: “Even the Queen”

  24. Falconfire says:

    @philosobrat: I would love to see a source for your claims, since every study I have looked up has said nothing of the sort. The biggest issue with a male pill is the differences between a man and a woman.

    The female pill only has to block one, maybe two eggs (on those rare occasions) who have a roughly 20-34 day cycle. The male pill has to stop millions of sperm that regenerate within minutes.

    That and the fact research has only recently started to tackle the issue the reason we dont have a male pill yet. Its too bad too, I would take one in a instant since my fiance has adverse effects to many of the pills, and for a time couldnt take all of them because her gyno didnt like the combination of medicine she was on.

  25. alhypo says:

    @d0x: “There is a damn good reason Women evolved the way they did and if nature wants you to have a period every month you might want to listen.”

    I disagree. Characteristics don’t always evolve for any particular purpose. Many extraneous and outright negative characteristics come about as a consequence of some other evolutionary event.

    For example, we evolved to walk upright and to have the largest brain/body ratio of any animal, both of which are undeniably advantageous. But as a consequence, babies must pass through a rather narrow opening in the pelvis, putting both the mother and child in significant danger. No other species has so much trouble with birthing, and most mammals are born nearly fully functional whereas we come out rather feeble.

    Cesarean births are, essentially, bypassing nature. You would have a hard time convincing me that this is in anyway bad.

    I’m not saying periods aren’t important. I have no idea really. But there is no support for the conclusion that anything nature produces is purposeful or beneficial.

    Still, I understand your reluctance to give up your period (or so I claim). I’ve actually had a vasectomy, but if it were to result in nothing being ejaculated I would never have considered it even though it is just for show now.

  26. formergr says:

    As others have said this stuff is no different than the regular pill, it’s just packaged differently. I’ve intentionally skipped periods before by just not taking the placebos and starting a new pack, usually because of a vacation or other even it would get in the way of.

    It works, but for the next month, the usually very minor side effects I get from the pill (bloating, breast enlargement and tenderness) increase like ten-fold. They don’t subside until I get my period the next time around, and by then it’s quite a relief.

    So while I think there are plenty of women this will work quite well and safely for, it’s not for me– you just have to know your own body.

  27. ribex says:

    I wonder how long it will take before Lybrel is associated with an increased risk of endometrial (uterine) cancer?

    I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but I wouldn’t recommend Lybrel to anyone who has any personal or family history of any female hormone irregularities or who would like to become pregnant at a later date.

    As a PCOS sufferer, I have become much more appreciative of my periods lately.

  28. kingofmars says:

    I’ve heard that these, “No period” birth control methods cause spotting, because there is never a period. Is there any truth to this? Or were the other kids at the playground lying to me?

  29. Kierst_thara says:

    @kingofmars: I realize that I only count as anecdotal evidence, but with the Depo, I had light, semi-random spotting for the first 4 or 5 months I was on it, but I’ve been spot-free since then.

  30. davere says:

    @tinychicken:

    Men birth control. Imagine you are going to sleep with a guy and you ask “did you take your birth control?”

    “Yeah baby, of course I did.”

    Sure, it could go both ways, but who is more likely to use that line?

  31. brendahamLincoln says:

    Comment Audition (crosses fingers!)

    This is a subject I’m VERY interested in and I’ve been reading as many articles about this particular pill as I could find for the past hour or so. I hate hate HATE having a period with a voracity that has no equal on this earth. That’s why when I was 19, I started taking Depo Provera. It was awesome, my periods stopped pretty much right away (they were irregular to begin with) and I never even had “spotting.” I’ll be 23 in about 2 weeks and I just switched to the pill for two reasons: it’s a lot harder to lose weight on depo and it was making my hair fall out. I know these 2 side effects aren’t common, and I really hope the other gals on this site that use it never get them, but they definitely got to me. Now I’m on the pill. And I hate it. But I love my hair more.

    To the commenter above who was wondering about spotting, most of the articles I read today mentioned that you may be losing a period, but you’re getting spotting in return. I can’t find it now, but an almost verbatim quote was “trading expected bleeding for unexpected bleeding.”

    I’m gonna ask my doc about skipping the placebo pills every cycle cuz that sounds delightful. And I don’t have to pay for them! Thank god for being a broke minority in Maricopa County!

  32. yanajenn says:

    I’ve been skipping periods using birth control pills for 10 years with no side effects other than very infrequent spotting (once or twice a year, maybe). I’ve gone without a break from the pills for anywhere from 3 months to 1 year. No problems other than remembering when I last had a period. Right now I’m on a 4 packs (21 active pills each) with one week off cycle right now, mostly because it is easier to keep track of breaks.

    Honestly, the most annoying thing is explaining to a new health care provider what I’m doing and how the prescription should be written so that my insurance will cover the expense.

  33. betterthan says:

    Who would ever want to stop getting a period?? The promise of possible accidental leakage would be gone! Sure it hasn’t happened to most of us since jr. high, but there’s always that fear…you use shop windows as mirrors, surreptitiously drop your phone under the table at lunch. It’s the closest to being James Bond you’ll ever come. I say YOU because I rock the Bond shit on the daily.

  34. howwhitemyshirtscanbe says:

    New medicines, especially the ones taken regularly, are always at least a little hazardous, and the hazards can never be known until *after* a large number of human guinea pigs have been taking them for a long time. But on the other hand, if they work to fix some pressing problem, plenty of people are willing to take the risk and be those guinea pigs. All well and good.

    But these days the issue is clouded by enormous and incredibly evil drugco campaigns to influence science, government, and media. And even worse, any woman-specific medicine has to contend with the deeply misogynistic history of medicine, because doctors have always tended to be traditionalist and authoritarian, and sexism goes with that.

    I’d say the best solutions are to make sure women are better represented among doctors, and to lobby the government to block drug company propaganda. We could join all the other industrialized nations, who don’t allow prescription drugs to be marketed to the public. We could use laws to end the culture of drugco bribery of doctors, taking them to free baseball games or yachting trips, with a “brief seminar” about the latest drug, which the doctors insist “doesn’t influence them.” We could stop drug companies from lobbying legislators and restrict the revolving door between drugcos and the FDA. And we could demand that when some loudmouth Nick Naylor type starts taking industry money and clouding the issue, our government and journalists point out that the emperor has no clothes and laugh him out of town.

    Remember Frances Kelsey!

  35. Amy Alkon says:

    For the woman interested in sterilization, there’s a new form out called “Essure.” Here’s a link to the FDA Talk Paper on it.

    http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/ANSWERS/2002/ANS01168.html

    And here’s an excerpt from that paper:

    FDA expedited review of the product because of its potential benefit to couples seeking alternative means of sterilization.

    During the implantation procedure, the physician inserts one of the devices into each of the two fallopian tubes. This is done with a special catheter that is inserted through the vagina into the uterus, and then into the fallopian tube. The device works by inducing scar tissue to form over the implant, blocking the fallopian tube and preventing fertilization of the egg by the sperm.

    During the first three months, women cannot rely on the Essure implants and must use alternate contraception. At the three-month point, women must undergo a final x-ray procedure in which dye is placed in the uterus and an x-ray is taken to confirm proper device placement. Once placement is confirmed, the alternate contraception can be discontinued.

    FDA based its approval of the device primarily on a review of two clinical studies of safety and effectiveness conducted by the manufacturer and on the recommendation of the Obstetrics and Gynecological Devices Panel of FDA’s Medical Devices Advisory Committee. No serious adverse events were reported from either clinical study.

    Doctors can sometimes be persuaded to sterilize you when you’re young if you’re very articulate and seem to know your own mind.

  36. MonkeySwitch says:

    The depo shot did horrible things to me. You’re not supposed to have a period? Mine never ended. I went into crazy depression. I lost weight instead of the suppposed gaining. I took one shot and never went back for another one. Over one year later I am still having periods that are either two or three weeks longs or I’m having one week periods twice a month. I haven’t had a sex drive either. I don’t have insurance and I can’t afford to go bac to Planned Parenthood or any other womens clinic.

    After this experience with birth control, I’m terrified to take anything else. I don’t know if my body could handle any more estrogen!! But stop my period?? Yes, god, please stop it.

    If only I could rip out my uterus. I want to adopt anyways.

  37. Monkey4Sale says:

    I’m going to post this again here, because it fits. It especially fits for those that think that having a period once a month, every month, for their long life, is the biological norm.

    “Although to be honest, women in our society menstrate much more frequently than their “bush” relatives. Stopping a woman’s period completely is a bit outrageous, but to limit its numbers is not all that out there. There is nothing wrong with having a period, but because women aren’t having children as frequently as some, the number of periods they have is much higher than is perfectly safe elsewhere.”

  38. Monkey4Sale says:

    @superlayne: Men get neutered, women get spayed. It’s a detail that would help your point substantially.

  39. Her Grace says:

    Women weren’t MEANT to have a period every month. We were meant to get pregnant easily and stay pregnant or breastfeeding (which, itself, often prevents ovulation). I think there’s probably less harm for women in the long run to fake their bodies into thinking they’re constantly pregnant and not bleeding than actually having a normal, non-birth controlled period monthly. The only hesitation I have is that any new chemical/drug can have unforseen side effects.

  40. veronykah says:

    I agree with the other Depo users and have always been mystified by my other female friends when I hear them talking about their HORRIBLE periods. I have been on Depo for about 10 years, I’m 28 and haven’t had a period since I was 17. I couldn’t be happier. I don’t see ANY reason or advantage to having a period. Perhaps the women that want to get their periods don’t have the horrible, messy, stressful PAINFUL periods that last 5-6 days…I did and I don’t miss them!
    MonkeySwitch — Most Planned Parenthoods have a plan where you submit your paystubs or school schedule and you can get free care or at the very least sliding scale based care. Check into it, there is no reason for you to have to live like that! They will help you.

  41. Jesus On A Pogo Stick says:

    @LuvJones: I read a year or two ago that Planned Parenthood offers men “temporary vasectomies.” Who knows if they really are temporary? But essentially, they just wrapped their man juice tubes up with some rubber bands and BAM, their good to go.

    @davere: That’s a great laugh. I could just imagine my boyfriend doing that. He routinely forgets to take his allergy medicine and he’ll be miserably and I’ll ask, “Did you remember to take your pill?” and He’ll respond “of course I did. It just hasn’t kicked in yet.” Then I’ll hear him a few minutes later in the bathroom taking his pills.

  42. Jesus On A Pogo Stick says:

    On last thing. I have a question for all the Depo users:

    Is it true that the shot makes your food craving go sky high and that the shot also makes you break out a lot? I’ve hear these rumors from friend and I wanted to know if they really were rumors.

  43. weedie says:

    Life is so much more fun as a model.

    It’s shocking how much coke you can buy with the money you would ordinarily spend on such mundane items as tampons and birth control. Plus you always feel fabulous.

  44. cgmaetc says:

    @superlayne: FYI, there’s a new hysterectomy where they just remove your uterus and leave the ovaries in tact. No periods and no hormone replacement pills to take. Ask you doctor.

    I still say if your period is merely inconvenient (symptoms that can be handled with some Midol and a heating pad), then let to flow. If you suffer from extreme periods, like PPMD, then explore your period-halting options. I hate the process, but I’m willing to deal with it. If I were suffering like I know some women are, I’d definitely consider stopping it all together.

    Personally, i like the NuvaRing. The hormones don’t have to travel thru my digestive system (the pill makes me nauseated) and are released similar to an IUD, except it’s inserted 3 weeks in, 1 week out. It’s helped regulate my period, shorten it’s length and, decrease my symptoms. Check it out.

  45. Ravenwaift says:

    @MonkeySwitch: I also got the never-ending period of Hell when I was on Depo. I called the OB/GYN and I got attitude from one of the nurses who told me that “irregularity is a normal side effect”. I told her “it isn’t irregular, it’s every damn day”. I ended up with a very heavy period every day for 5 months.

    It was really effective birth control though- my boyfriend didn’t want to have sex with me.

    My best birth control method- my husband got a vasectomy (as a wedding present to me). Not for everyone, but it isn’t as bad as a lot of men think.

  46. hoo_foot says:

    I’m very skeptical of this drug simply because I had a horrible time on Depo. I didn’t have monthly periods on Depo. Instead, I had months of daily spotting and light bleeding in addition to cramps and horrible mood swings. A monthly period was preferrable to the mess that Depo turned me into.

  47. SexCpotatoes says:

    My brother got a vasectomy sometime after his third kid. My insurance doesn’t cover it, but it’d only be a $550 charge and a weekend off work (icing the nuts afterwards). But I’m not 100% sure I don’t want kids, maybe only 99%. I hear that vasectomies are reversible though…

  48. formergr says:

    @JesusOnAPogoStick: Regarding whether Depo makes you crave food and break out– it all depends on how sensitive you are to estrogen/progesterone. If the oral (“regular”) pill gives you lots of side effects, then you’d probably do really badly on Depo since it’s a big honking dose of hormones at once that then lasts over the next three months.

    I’m pretty sensitive to hormones (a lot of pills gave me side effects, I did better on low-dose ones like Yasmin), so I think Depo would hit me like some of the posters here (neverending period, etc). Other posters have bodies that can obviously handle the high dose of Depo without issue; more power to them and I’m more than a little jealous.

    I will add one more vote to the Nuva-Ring. Nice, low dose that’s slowly released without taking the pill, and very few side effects (some bloating that gets bad toward the end of the 3 weeks).

  49. Gloria says:

    Hell, if never having periods sterilizes me, I’d count that as a benefit. If I change my mind about kids, I can always adopt. Win win!

  50. Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate says:

    Mine was and is no big deal, so I’d rather not mess with nature. You can only get pregnant 3-4 days a month anyhow. Figuring out when those days are is the trick (and no Rtard, I’m not talking about the rhythm method- which is based upon all women having the same cycle.)
    I’d also advise you wait until you’re at least 30 before you go through with sterilizing yourself. People change.

  51. cindel25 says:

    You still have your period and become pregnant…
    Anyway, no more tampons or pads for me!!

  52. Kierst_thara says:

    @JesusOnAPogoStick: Personally, I didn’t notice any Depo side-effects in regards to eating/weight or skin condition. Of course, everyone seems to react uniquely, so YMMV.

    Just as a side note, the Depo shot uses a different type of hormone than the estrogen in oral contraceptives, so just because you’ve had problems with the pill, doesn’t mean you’ll have the same ones on Depo. There’s a really good article about a number of hormonal options at http://www.healthsquare.com/fgwh/wh1ch21.htm if you’re interested. The section on Depo is near the bottom.

  53. minneapolisite says:

    I don’t think anyone uses the rhythm method, but many women use the sympto-thermal method. It’s natural, free, and doesn’t require FDA approval. All it requires is a quarter of a brain and the ability to make decisions based on an 18-year plan instead of an 18-minute plan.

  54. Also, to everyone calling this a freedom from all period-related symptoms: getting rid of the period doesn’t always get rid of the rest of the symptoms. I know several young women who, for medical reasons, don’t have any periods. They still get monthly cramps, their mood swings are worse, and they’re not much better off for not having a period, save the lack of hemorrhaging.

    @alicetheowl: Exactly!

    Hell, I started taking medication because I wasn’t having periods (PCOS).

    I thought that the reason you still bleed on the pill was because you weren’t supposed to let the uterine lining build up.

  55. Ravenwaift says:

    @SexCpotatoes: Vasectomys can be reversed, but the procedure isn’t as cheap as getting the snip and it is not assured. There are ways to have a vasectomy done that increase the chances of a successful reversal, but these techniques have a higher chance of spontaneous reversal. In addition, the longer it is since you had the vasectomy done, the less likely you will have a successful reversal.

    If you have a vasectomy you need to get tested once a year to make sure there are no swimmers. My husband had to get tested twice before they said he was sterile.

    I would suggest that you not have the procedure done if you think that you may someday really want your own geneticly-related children. The chance for dissapointment is too great.

  56. John Stracke says:

    @LuvJones:

    It would be nice if these researchers came up with something for men.

    There’s certainly been work on it—I remember a biochemist friend of mine was doing research on it at NIH around 1994. If I recall correctly, she said that the basic difficulty is that males don’t cycle. With females, you can disrupt the cycle, and keep them in the infertile stage; but males are always fertile.

    More broadly, you can look at it from the evolutionary viewpoint. At the biological level, female reproduction involves a large investment; male reproduction does not. As a result, females have to be a lot more choosy about when and with whom to reproduce, and female bodies tend to have facilities for locking out fertilization; contraceptives can trick the body into using those facilities. Males, on the other hand, need to take advantage of any chance they get, so male bodies (a) have facilities to pick the females’ fertilization locks, and (b) have to be ready to reproduce at the drop of a hat. (Please, don’t go dropping hats on the Senate floor.) As a result, blocking their efforts is a lot harder.

  57. Raanne says:

    why anyone on the pill would want a “period” is beyond me… its just a placebo – its not the same as an actual period at all. And it serves no purpose. It is there, 100%, for psychological reasons. For those crying medical reasons – we would know about that by now, because people have been doing this for years and years and years. This is not a new concept.

  58. Dervish says:

    This doesn’t really have to do with the article, but something that I think is really overlooked (especially by doctors): not every pill affects every woman the same. Before I started taking pills I was one of the most mellow people you’d ever meet. I couldn’t even remember the last time I had cried. Then, bam! EVERYTHING set me off, even when I knew it shouldn’t, and I couldn’t stop thinking about whatever had started me on that particular crying jag. It wasn’t worth it – not the lack of condoms and not the absence of debilitating cramps. I couldn’t live like that and I couldn’t put my boyfriend through it.

    After doing some research I was reasonably sure that it was the progesterone part of the pill that was making me crazy, so I changed to a low dose pill and two years later I’m doing pretty well. I guess I can’t be confident that I’m back to my old normal self, since it’s been so long and I’m a different person anyhow, but I’m feeling good. Of course, now they’re saying that the low dose pills increase your risk of heart attack, but I’m young and healthy and don’t smoke tobacco.

    Regarding male birth control – I’m sure somewhere down the line it’ll happen, but I think I’ll stick to female pills with their 50-ish year medical history. I don’t know if messing with a guy’s hormones will make them as crazy as it did me, but I can’t put my boyfriend through that. Plus, although he’s completely reliable and I trust him more than anyone else, there’s something reassuring about having baby making under my control.

  59. kerry says:

    @myls: THANK YOU. I’ve been getting so annoyed with people yelling that this new pill is somehow interfering with nature more than any other pill. Plus, there is long term evidence from people who have been taking full-dose pills continuously for many, many years that continuous birth control is as safe as intermittent birth control and that your ovaries pop back into action when you get off of it. I’ve been on Seasonale, a 3-month cycle pill for a few years and I’m really happy with it. The only thing stopping me from switching to Lybrel is the thought of going through yet another adjustment phase, which can last as long as a year on continuous pills (the adjustment phase on 28-day pills is about 3 months, my adjustment phase seasonale was lower than the average at 6 months).
    Also, stick me in the “too young to get sterilized” camp, I really don’t care if this stuff disables my ovaries. I didn’t really want them, anyway.

  60. @CamilleR: “The girls at work insist its bad birth control since without a period I can’t be sure I’m not pregnant.”

    Weirdest. Logic. Ever.

    @d0x: “Stopping something that is suppose to happen to the body every 30 or so days cant be healthy”

    Actually, d0x, most current research suggests that HAVING periods every 28 days or so is, in fact, harmful to women’s health, since for most of our species’ history, women would NOT have experienced 13 periods a year, year after year after year, but would have started procreating shortly after sexual maturity. Their periods would than have been routinely suppressed by breastfeeding and new pregnancies. Modern women have something like 10 times the number of periods our forebearers did because we are pregnant far less often and typically don’t breastfeed as long, and that contant flood of hormones is NOT normal for the human female body.

    Physicians have known since the middle ages that women who menstruate frequently are far more prone to certain female cancers than women who menstruated infrequently due to pregnancies — their frequently-menstruating control group was cloistered nuns, and their rates of some cancers were SKY HIGH. (Now, of course, big questions about how much of the issue is “too many” periods and how much is “never being pregnant,” since pregnancy also changes the body.)

    @all:
    My only concern about this pill is that it touches off the typical chorus of “I hate my period! I’m so glad I don’t have to have it!” and given the low self-esteem of many tween and teen girls just starting to menstruate, I don’t want us adults to add to their negative body images by implying periods are gross and bad. It’s a hard enough age!

  61. tracilyns says:

    @kerry:
    i’m the exact opposite. when i’m not on the pill, i have no periods (at all), and i’m an emotional wreck. lots of blubbering, depression, psychopath behavior…not fun.

    but regarding this new drug…i think i’ll wait to see if it actually kills people before i take it. the fda is starting to get a bad track record for approving drugs and then later realizing that they are lethal.

  62. PhillyLass says:

    In a perfect world, I’d love to do away with my period, but we get it for a reason. It’s part of the body’s way of purifying itself and expelling toxins.
    But I agree with those who point out that it’s the dumbest possible way of determining whether you’re pregnant.

    On the topic of men’s birth control– I would so NOT want to take it on faith that my boyfriend is remembering to take his pill every day. I’m the one who would have to endure the whole pregnancy/childbirth drama, so I have much greater incentive to keep track of my birth control.

  63. TinaB says:

    My experience with birth control has been pretty vast. I was on the pill (various brands with different hormone levels) for about two years, never any problems except when I first started, my period was about a month long. When I got off the pill, however, my period lasted me three whole months.
    I recently got the Depo shot, my period stopped (finally!!!) but I have noticed that I’ve gotten quite a bit more acne. Although that could be from the 100 degree weather here, and the constant sweat pouring off of every part of my body.
    I did have some intense mood swings on the pill when it got close to the end of a pack, but switching to a pill that had the same hormone levels all month helped quite a bit. So far, so good on Depo, haven’t felt moody at all.

    Good riddance period, good riddance.

  64. QuirkyRachel says:

    Yeah, I agree. I think that monthly cycle is there for a reason – it’s our bodies ways of cleaning everything out, or renewing if you’d like a more poetic term. Now I’m not saying that there aren’t times when I wish I didn’t have my period…

  65. SarahHeartburn says:

    There is no good medical reason to need a period and doctors have know this for years. It’s a shame that the justified paranoia about Big Pharma makes people wary of a useful product..Back in the early ’70’s it was the most forward and feminist MD’s who were recommending skpping periods. There have now been a couple of generations of women who have spent many years on the pill and the cancer fears just haven’t panned out. (And, compared to the pill I started taking at 16 back in ’72, much less estrogen is used today.)I wish this had been around when I was younger; I think of all the days I lost to sledgehammer cramps.

  66. Shadowman615 says:

    This isn’t really new. Depo-Provera is a once-a-quarter shot that has been on the market for many years now. As mentioned above, the patient does not menstruate while on Depo, just like this newer method. The main difference is that now it’s available in pill form.

    One problem I can see is that the pill form will be more susceptible to ‘user error.’ In other words, you have to take it every day for it to work.

    BTW, the idea of the menstrual cycle, is that when a woman ovulates, a protective lining forms in the uterus. The menstrual period is the body’s way of breaking down that lining every month. What’s different about these forms of birth control is that ovulation does not occur AND the protective lining is never created. There is therefore no need to ‘clean out’ or renew every month.

  67. cradle says:

    I think there are big misconceptions about periods while being on the pill. As many have stated here — it’s true that it’s not a real period when you’re on the pill. What you experience is withdrawal bleeding during your placebo week from not taking the hormones.

    When you’re on any BC pill you don’t ovulate (release an egg). So your uterine lining barely builds up. That’s why skipping the placebo week is possible.

    I agree that Lybrel is a little too harsh/too new for me. I think the study only went for 1 year… I’ve been using the birth control that gives you 4 periods a year for 4 months now. It’s called seasonique. i’m on my second pack (each pack has 3 months of pills at a time!) and I’ve had little if any breakthrough bleeding. And no weight gain. I say that’s a better ‘baby’ step…

  68. kerry says:

    @QuirkyRachel and PhillyLass: No. The bleeding that comes during a birth control pill cycle is not a natural bodily cleansing, it is a violent reaction to the withdrawal of the artificial hormones in the pill. If you’re not on the pill, by all means keep your natural period if you like it. But the stuff that happens on the pill isn’t a period, it’s not menstruation, it’s not natural or really very cleansing. Your body doesn’t build up as much of a uterine wall during a pill cycle (since the hormones suppress the signals to the uterus that say “make a womb”) and it never really needs to be cleaned out. That said, on continuous pills it will shed a little sometimes, which is called breakthrough bleeding. That’s much more natural than the planned “period” built into most hormonal contraceptive regimens.

  69. Boo says:

    I would be interested to see how the new pill affects calcium uptake. I was on Depo for five years and loved it because my endometriosis symptoms don’t occur if I am not menstruating. My doctor recommended that I switch off of Depo when some studies showed that women’s bone density was severely reduced by being on it. Regular birth control also reduces calcium uptake but not by as much. Now my doctor has me on a low dose pill that I take constantly for three months with period in between so at least I am only in crippling pain for four weeks a year instead of twelve.

  70. automatic_blue says:

    @LuvJones:
    I’ll forgive you for saying “Goddess”, but only just this once.

    I think as a man, I’d love to have some kind of male birth control pill going on. The more layers you can stick between yourself and an unplanned pregnancy, the better.

    I don’t think it’s some kind of phallocentric conspiracy that’s prevented it, as the most common form of birth control is male-oriented (the condom)

  71. slapstick says:

    I am not organized enough to remember to take a pill everyday, but I simply don’t skip a week with my patches, and so far so good. My cramps used to keep me home from school, curled up in a ball and unable to keep down food.

    Women who are complaining that it’s unnatural to skip their period just don’t want to lose their excuse for being a bitch. >:(

  72. brennakimi says:

    For the many above commenters who are confused, Depo (and the new Mirena hormonal IUD) are both progestin only. Some people may have taken progestin-only orals as well.
    I started taking bc freshman year of high school due to extreme cramps and heavy bleeding (read: one hour for an overnight pad). They were a lifesaver. However, I had lots of trouble remembering to take them right and wonked up my system for 10 months (no period). I used the Nuva Ring for a while and that was great, but like many people here have noticed, different things have different effects on people. (For the record, Nuva is an estrogen-progestin combo therapy.) Because I have a funny system, the “foreign object” of the ring gave me a constant yeast infection (for two years). I tried the Seasonale (an estrogen-progestin combination oral designed to be taken for 3 months and then provide a week for a period) last summer. When I completed the first pack, I bled for a whole month. I gave up halfway through the second pack. I’d never had this problem before and I’d been doing a three month suppression on my nuva rings for two years. Then after a few months of letting my body fix itself, I decided to go with the Mirena. I was talked into the Depo instead and am thrilled. When I started my Depo, I experienced some spotting for two weeks right before I was supposed to get the second shot. I have experienced this again this time. I can live with this since my cramps are VASTLY improved. I haven’t had any real changes in my eating. I’ve gained some weight, but I attribute that to my ordinary yo-yoing which is an unrelated problem. I’ve experienced some increased emotional sensitivity, but I’m not sure that it’s not more related to being very stressed thanks to grad school and relationship issues.

    I gave all these details to give my own anecdotal experience to those who had some questions about various birth control therapies. As to supression, I have no real scientific knowledge, but seeing how women in less developed countries have their first child around 13 and breast feed for two years, that’s three years of little to no cycle. Then add in a few more of these three year child-rearing cycles and you have at least 12 years with no period. Considering low life-expectancies (and getting mauled by a bear), this may result in very, very few unproductive cycles. Now of course, there has been a long history of utilizing various herbal birth controls and abortofascients. In fact, there was an old (egyptian?) coin with a plant on the back which was so effective as an abortofascient that it was actually used to extinction. Caraway seeds and Queen Anne’s Lace are reportedly moderately effective in high doses as well. At any rate, these were most likely utilized by unmarried women interested in preserving their image for marriagability rather than women who wanted to postpone childbearing for careers.

    I would not take this pill. But only because I have NO memory for daily routine. I am unconcerned with the health effects of long-term use of chemical estrogens or progestins. We’ve had almost 50 years of mass birth control use and adding 13 weeks of exposure, I really don’t think will change the effects all that much, especially considering that women have been doing this under the direction of physicians for years. If nothing else, so many women in this country suffer from anemia. A reduction in cycles could easily treat this. I think all this concern over skipping periods being “unnatural” is really misplaced. Your organs aren’t going to stop working for lack of period any more than for lack of childbearing. Just because your uterus doesn’t bleed doesn’t mean your brain and your ovaries are going to stop producing the necessary hormones once they’re no longer suppressed. Think about it this way. Many athletic women develop late and simply don’t have periods until after they’ve reduced their activity. The lack of period through those active years (think body naturally supressing reproduction due to high-stress environment) doesn’t prevent these women from ever having children and neither will this.

    If this product interests you, you should discuss it with your physician, but I really doubt it will have any side effects more than normal birth control pills.

    As to the misogyny of medicine, I think there’s more cause for concern with treatment plans for diseases rather than birth control. The standard treatment for endometriosis is still hysterectomy.

  73. medicalstudent says:

    It is important to note that half of the subjects in the study dropped out due to irregular bleeding. While this birth control pill may work, it will still be necessary to use tampons or whatever sanitary napkin women use these days. Happy days to all!

  74. mermaidshoes says:

    @d0x: “if nature wants you to have a period every month you might want to listen.”

    nature wants us to get pregnant, not have a period. the period itself serves no real purpose (other than preparing the body for another try at pregnancy). so fuck nature (but only if you’re using birth control…). it’s not like nature wants us to use computers, drive cars, or cause global warming… but here we are.


    @JesusOnaPogoStick: i had also heard from many people that depo caused increased appetite and weight gain, but i haven’t experienced either of those symptoms myself. my skin is also fine for the most part. i get a random zit now and then, but who doesn’t? i love not getting a period, not worrying about missing a pill, and most of all not having to buy or use tampons or pads. i am really glad my money no longer supports idiotic tampax commercials.


    but did anyone see amy sedaris help conan o’brien use tampons for crafts last night? i might have to buy a box just for crafting purposes…

  75. apophenia says:

    I don’t know how young those of you who are claiming to be “too young to be sterilized” are, but if you haven’t actually talked to your doctor about it, you may be surprised by the reaction you get. As someone else said, doctors are sometimes open to the sterilization of a youngish person if the patient is articulate and educated about what she wants and why she wants it. I had my tubes tied when I was 25, unmarried, and had no kids. As long as you can provide good reasons for not wanting to use a less permanent form of birth control and are self-aware enough to be 100% sure that it’s what you want, there’s no reason a doctor should refuse to perform the operation. If your ob-gyn won’t do it, find another doctor who will. There are more of them than you think.

  76. methane says:

    All I know is that in 10-15 years of reading about male birth control pills or systems, they’re ALWAYS about 5 years away… how does that math work out?

  77. Elvisisdead says:

    There are tons of different formulas of birth control pills, but two main categories. Monophasic and Tri-pahse. Monophasic contain a level amount of hormones (whatever the cocktail in that pill happens to be) and contain a placebo week that contains no hormones. Tri-phase pills contain 3 levels of hormones throughout the month, + a placebo pill.

    Women can subdue a period using monophasic pills (which is what these are) and skipping the placebo and starting a new pack. Relatively safe. My wife did it for years with only a little spotting every now and then. PLEASE talk to a doc before you do this. It is NOT safe to do this with the tri-phasic pills.

    All that being said my wife got pregnant when on monophasic pills, and we now have a little 2% kid that we love to death.

    Plenty of people use the rhythm method. Just ask the pope. It’s the core of Natural Family Planning. A buddy of mine is hard core Catholic, and he and his wife have a sex calendar that marks the days that they can get it on.

  78. Been on Seasonal/Jolessa for the last 4 or 5 years. Love it. The four times a year I do get my period are annoying at best. If i’m ever afraid for some reason I’m pregnant (which is always an irrational fear since I take my pills religiously) i just grab an EPT. Easy. I will get on the No period bangwagon. It’s ironic to me that people think this is eliminating a part of nature and yet we “eliminate” nature all the time. Men get Viagra, we get No periods. Sounds like a fair trade-off.

  79. cgmaetc says:

    Curious… pills that stop your monthly bleeding (like this one and Seasonale), also increase your risk of blood clots…

  80. formergr says:

    Any birth control pill increases your risk of blood clots, it’s a side effect of the hormone. “Pills that stop your monthly bleeding” are the same pill, just packaged and dosed differently so that you take it constantly.

  81. healthdog says:

    @ methane:

    Because every scientist hates writing a “We failed. Again” paper.

  82. leadhyena says:

    @aujahlisa: Thank you so much for mentioning this story, for the life of me I couldn’t remember the author! I remember reading it in a Nebula book almost 10 years ago and thinking “This is gonna happen someday”. Now it’s happening, and the same debate is brewing as did in the story between the naturalists who refused to eschew the menstrual cycle and those that did. LOL, and just like the one man at the table in the story, I will continue to keep my mouth politely shut. :)

  83. ryanblain says:

    Am I only one who expects to see this product recalled in 5 years or less for health risks?

  84. Monkey4Sale says:

    @ryanblain: yes

    They won’t recall something that has already been on the market for years, just because they changed the packaging. It is normal everyday birthcontrol, without a placebo. It’s nothing new, so there won’t be a recall.