Period-Stopping Birth Control Hits Pharmacy Shelves

Lybrel the “new” birth control that stops your “period” completely is on store shelves this week.

The pill uses the same hormones as traditional birth control pills, but does not include the placebos that “fake” a period every month. (The bleeding one experiences from taking placebos is not, in fact, a menstrual period. It is just bleeding caused by withdrawal from hormones.)

Nevertheless, some women like their faux periods, according to the Houston Chronicle:

“That scares me,” said Melinda Perez, 35, of League City. “It plays too much with the way your body naturally needs to work.”

“Not that I always enjoy my cycles, but I wouldn’t want to get rid of it,” said Kiara Ward, 17, of northeast Houston. “It’s there for a purpose.”

But gynecologists say that’s not necessarily true. Women are designed to be pregnant or nursing, which causes menstruation to cease, during their child-bearing years, said Dr. Patricia Sulak, a professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. Instead, because of the availability of contraception and women’s modern roles in society, they’re having periods every month, year after year.

“Women are having too many periods today,” said Sulak, who specializes in menstruation suppression.

Good news for the 8% of women who experience painful side-effects from their periods and would just as soon do without.

New pill is a true test of women’s love-hate relationship with periods [Houston Chronicle]
(Photo:Steve Campbell: Chronicle)

PREVIOUSLY: FDA Approves Birth Control That Eliminates Periods

Comments

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  1. cde says:

    I can hear the bombshells about to drop from the “better living through medicine” tag being used…

  2. jpx72x says:

    One of the major reasons to use birth control is to prevent pregnancy. No pill is 100% effective. Women aren’t afraid of losing their natural pregnancy test?

  3. Buran says:

    I’m going to ask about this option when I go in for my annual checkup — I am tired of having to deal with it. (I already knew that what you get now is a “placebo”, harmless, and unnecessary).

  4. CamilleR says:

    The main reason I picked Depo Provera as my birth control of choice was to stop my period. Before the shot, I spent a week of every month with migraines and cramps so bad that I couldn’t stand up straight. Since I no longer have to deal with the pain and the mess, I’m happier, healthier, and more productive at work. Stopping my period was the best decision I ever made, and I’m all for women having more options on ways to end their monthly misery.

  5. Pelagius says:

    “It plays too much with the way your body is naturally meant to work.”

    Actually, honey, you were “naturally” supposed to be pregnant most of the time between the ages of 13 and 33. Some researchers theorize that increased rates of certain maladies (e.g. breast cancer) may actually be linked to the fact that women are menstruating more than they were “naturally” meant to.

  6. Meg Marco says:

    @cde: It’s just a joke.

  7. Pelagius says:

    Ah. Or I could have read the rest of the quoted article..

  8. morganlh85 says:

    I’ve been on Depo, and period-free for years and years, and I couldn’t be happier. Lots of women have been using regular pills to skip their period (by skipping over the placebo pills) for a long time also, so I don’t really see what all the hubbub is about.

  9. aro says:

    I personally like the monthly confirmation that I’m not preggo

  10. sleze69 says:

    FYI – that bleeding thing during the placebo days? Yeah…that’s not a period(the uterus shedding its “walls”. That is just a withdraw reaction.

  11. urban_ninjya says:

    Funny thing is, it’s just the normal birth control pill without the sugar pill every 30 days. Reason for the original sugar pill, the inventor was Catholic and didn’t want to disrupt the normal body cycle. And with patent protection, no one else was allowed to produce the same pill without the sugar pill.

    Another interesting fact.. Birth control pill is just a hormone that tricks your body into thinking it’s already pregnant (partially). So it’ll make a womens breast swell up a little more than normal adding like a 1/2 cup size through extended usage.

  12. phrygian says:

    Just because you menstruate, doesn’t mean you’re not pregnant. Besides, as others have pointed out, the bleeding that happens while you’re on birth control pills isn’t anything but shedding the uterine wall. I think it’s great that there’s yet one more option for women in the realm of birth control.

  13. morganlh85 says:

    @aro:

    The way I see it, if I’m not getting my period, I know the birth control is working.

  14. acambras says:

    Good news for the 8% of women who experience painful side-effects from their periods and would just as soon do without.

    I can’t believe that it’s only 8%. And I wonder if that’s 8% of all women (including post-menopausal), or 8% of the women who menstruate.

  15. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Now….how do I bring this up to my girlfriend in a subtle way? I’m sick of our scheduled fighting every month. :(

  16. stpauliegirl says:

    Count me as another happy Depo user. I’ve been on it for eight years, haven’t bled for over seven. All the ladies in my life have learned not to ask me when they need a tampon. :)

  17. Amy Alkon says:

    @Pelagius:

    Pelagius is right about what’s “natural.” I rode to the airport after an evolution conference with an anthropologist who works with the Dogon, who said they spend most of their lives pregnant or lactating and have FAR, FAR fewer periods than western women do.

    From what I understand, Carl Djerassi, who invented the pill, made the decision to have the sugar pills in there so women wouldn’t freak out at the novelty of being period-free.

  18. kerrington.steele says:

    I wonder if the hormone dosage in Lybrel is higher than in, say, Seasonale (another birth control option that stops your period for several months at a time by leaving out the placebos). I’ve been on Seasonale for a year, and my body just can’t seem to go the full 3 months of hormones without letting me know it’s time for a “period”. It’s annoying, because I just want to get rid of the bleeding, but apparently my uterus doesn’t want that to happen. Gah.

  19. Mom2Talavera says:

    I don’t take any prescription medications including birth control. I don’t want those chemicals in my body for the rest of my life. I don’t trust the pharmaceutical industry.You have your period for a reason…its natural and I dont want to take some posion to make it stop.

    I dont trust the FDA either, fuck them!

  20. wesrubix says:

    @jpx72x: exactly. My girlfriend and I both experience a little bit of relief every time she gets her period.

  21. veronykah says:

    Add me to the list of happy Depo users. Haven’t had a period in ten years! Have NEVER missed it.
    When I hear other women complaining about their periods I always wonder WHY they put themselves through it.
    Completely unnecessary.

  22. jrdnjstn78 says:

    I was on Depo too and loved the fact of having no periods. I got off of it because I experienced weight gain.

    You can go without periods on most birth control pills already. Keep taking the pill but don’t take any of the placebo pills.

    I had also heard that if you’re anemic not having your period may be good so you don’t lose iron.

    For you guys who don’t know how to approach your g/f about using this. Just tell them, I’m sure she doesn’t want to deal with PMS either every month.

  23. Peeved Guy says:

    FTA:

    “Women are having too many periods today,” said Sulak, who specializes in menstruation suppression.

    While I get the whole “women are supposed to be pregnant” thing, this just seems like a silly thing to say. You mean they are having more periods compared to whom? An unwed woman in the 18th century? A nun? A woman with 12 kids?

  24. silverlining says:

    (The bleeding one experiences from taking placebos is not, in fact, a menstrual period. It is just bleeding caused by withdrawal from hormones.)

    Really? Are you differentiating between shedding uterine lining and shedding an ovulated egg…? (sorry if I’ve offended the squeamish)

  25. Faerie says:

    @GeneralLeigh:

    Ditto =( I’ve been using Seasonale for nearly 2 years now and I still get “period” in the middle of the 3 months of pills. It’s gotten better, but hasn’t gone away completely.

    I do like having the mental “okay” of the period to know that I’m not pregnant though.

  26. SJActress says:

    I have endometriosis, so my periods are INCREDIBLY painful, and I have to have surgery every 5 years until I get pregnant, hit menopause, or get a hysterectomy. Problem is, I don’t want kids, EVER, and it’s another 10 years before they’ll consider a hysterectomy. Menopause is a LONG way away.
    But, I can’t take Depo–it makes me completely crazy and indifferent to sex. Maybe this pill will be different…

  27. latrevo says:

    While I have my thoughts going either way on this argument (my wife prefers to “skip” the placebo sometimes), I’d be very interested in hearing from someone who’s been on this no-period birth control long-term and has gone on to get pregnant. Are there long-term effects on fertility?

  28. stpauliegirl says:

    @jrdnjstn78: You’re totally right on the anemia part. I was anemic every month during my visitor from Red Wing, to the point that passing out was not uncommon. Not having periods for several years fixed that right up!

  29. newlywed says:

    the stats i see say 45% of women suffer some pms symptoms…and from my and my girlfriends experiences, even that is underestimated…i would totally take this pill, but i’d probably also take a preggo test every couple of months, too, lol. i’ll probably talk to my gyno about it next month!

  30. MoogleLally says:

    When I went to the doctor a couple weeks ago, I asked for a scrip for this and my doctor said, “You know you can just skip the sugar pills in the pack you’re taking now (orthotricyclin).”

    “Really?!”

    “Yes!”

    So yeah, I’ve been doing that. The doc even wrote the perscription for longer than I year because technically I’ll need an extra three pack of pills to cover the active pills I’m taking. No side effects so far, and no period! I’ve never been so happy. =)

  31. Newmy says:

    Latrevo, I started skipping my sugar pills around 8 years ago and stopped having periods entirely. In 2004, the hubby and I started to consider having a baby, so I stopped the pill entirely in March. In August, we finally decided to go for it, and I got pregnant on the first attempt. So in my case, it had no effect on fertility. I’ve been back on the pill for over a year now and love being period-free again.

  32. kaikhor says:

    I like the idea of not getting my period, but as someone who was on the pill and not having my period is EXACTLY what told me I was pregnant (I’m now 5 months), I would probably be in constant worry that I am pregnant.

    I personally know someone who got pregnant on Depo, by the way. Didn’t know she was pregnant until 8 weeks before her due date. She was heavy to begin with and finally went to the doctor because of the serious stomach pains she was having. She, like many Depo users, didn’t have a period to know months earlier. That terrifies me.

    If I could find a non-permanent method to not have my period, would allow me to have sex without serious worry about pregnancy, and wouldn’t make me insane (like Depo did. Worst mood swings ever!), I’d take it.

  33. What if you’re on the pill for hormone treatment and not because you might get pregnant? Would not having a ‘break’ be better or worse I wonder?

    Could be a moot point: what insurance company is going to pay for a new drug?

  34. any such name says:

    @acambras: agreed, 8% seems pretty low.

    @Mom2Talavera: 40+ years of research not good enough for you?

    @MoogleLally: i was warned (using the nuva ring) that skipping my week off could cause breakthrough bleeding. anyone else have this?

    regardless, it’s great that this drug is finally available. advances in nutrition have caused girls to get periods earlier than ever before (some as young as 8, can you imagine?) and these girls aren’t getting pregnant anytime soon (in theory) so… yeah, more periods than ever before. bleh.

  35. ks9angel says:

    You can use regular birth control and skip the placebos, but then you are purchasing almost 18 packs of pills a year. With this, I’m assuming you get 28 hormone pills instead of 21 per pack allowing you to have to buy only 13. That could save someone a couple hundred dollars a year just from not having to buy 5 extra packs every year to skip the placebos.

  36. peggynature says:

    Something about that quote, “Women are having too many periods today,” just cracked me up. We’re probably also breathing too much oxygen too, since, you know, the average lifespan is longer than it used to be.

    And we know all nonparous women throughout history have DROPPED DEAD at 40 from menstruating too much. That’s the dumbest reason I’ve ever heard for selling drugs to people.

  37. nardo218 says:

    It took over a year for Seasonique to stop breakthrough bleeding for half the secon month and the entire third month. I’m on it for hormone treatment, b/c PMS disrupts my bipolar, and it would have been nice to just skip the period alltogether.

    I’ve read that this drug isn’t supposed to cause problems w/ fertility, but I guess we’ll see.

    @Rectilinear Propagation: I would think a steady dose of hormones is better than stopping and starting them.

  38. pestie says:

    @SJActress: But, I can’t take Depo–it makes me completely crazy and indifferent to sex.

    So most women wouldn’t notice any effects at all?

    (ducking and running)

  39. ephemerista says:

    @KS9ANGEL

    It could save you a couple hundred dollars a year to buy the extra packs or it could be a lot cheaper. It just depends on whether the person is using a generic brand of the pill or not.

    I’m imagining that depending on the insurance company, this new pill is going to be rather expensive. For an example I was on Seasonale (the one period every 3-months pill) and it cost me $30 for a 3-month pack. A generic came out recently and now the cost is $10 for a 3-month pack. It would be cheaper for me to just buy one extra pack a year than to switch to this new “brand name” pill.

  40. Buran says:

    @jrdnjstn78: You can, but then you fall behind in the schedule, so that you are using the pill packs faster than you’re supposed to and insurance will only pay for X number of them in Y months. That’s all that’s stopping me right now.

  41. Buran says:

    @ephemerista: I’m paying $10/mo for my generic “regular” pill right now, which is the same as what you were paying. Still, when you don’t have to buy “supplies” every month it may be similar cost-wise.

  42. Bix says:

    I can’t hear about Lybrel without thinking of that awful ABC News article about it where the basic theme was “How would women know they’re women if they don’t bleed from their vaginas every month? THEM BITCHES BE CRAZY!”

  43. Bix says:

    And here it is: [abcnews.go.com]

  44. For the people who keep insisting that period = not pregnant, read a book. I bled TWICE when I was pregnant, so I decided I wasn’t pregnant for a lot longer than was healthy. Not that the bloody (no pun intended) thing was ever regular enough to be an indicator BEFORE.

    I went on depo, but it made me gain a lot of weight, so I’m off it now.

  45. WhatsMyNameAgain says:

    Homosexuality: CONFIRMED!

    Thank you, ladies!

  46. Rudko says:

    Here is a blog/website that will fully explain the science behind the fake periods women experience while taking the traditional pill.

    The author also goes into detail about the new period free pills being released.

    [thewelltimedperiod.blogspot.com]

  47. North of 49 says:

    Depo messed up Ms. No49′s cycle for years. Instead of no periods, all she had was a period. Her doctor wanted her to have the shot every 3 weeks to see if it would stop it. Took a D&C to finally stop the constant bleeding and not taking another shot AND five years AND a full term pregnancy kicked off by other drugs for her cycle to go back to “normal.”

    She has said that she will NEVER go on any hormonal birth control again.

  48. @nardo218: Yeah, I would think so too.

    @David Bixenspan: OMG, “gender bender” is in the freaking title of the story! WTF?!?!

  49. MonkeySwitch says:

    @North of 49: Depo made me super whacky as well. I know that I’ve gone off on a rant about it before, but it’s been right at a year since my first (and only) shot, and I’m only now starting to feel normal again.