No more periods, period

Warn your ovaries -- the Food and Drug Administration is poised to approve Lybrel.

Published May 22, 2007 1:25PM (EDT)

Interesting news for anyone keeping track of the progress of Lybrel, the birth control pill that eliminates one's period altogether. (See previous Broadsheet coverage here and here.) Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve Lybrel, which would make it possible to get a prescription to stop your period indefinitely.

An article in the Arizona Republic points out that this would be far from the first instance of women's using birth control pills to control their period. We all know about Seasonale, but even in the pill's early days, doctors advised patients to skip the sugar pills when they had events coming up (beach vacations, weddings, etc.) that made menstruation inconvenient. Still, the approval -- and eventual widespread use -- of Lybrel would certainly be a big change in women's relationships with their bodies.

As could be expected, Lybrel has stirred up a debate on how much control we should have over our reproductive cycles. Critics argue that we don't know enough about the potential long-term side effects of suppressing periods (some also point out that a period is a natural pregnancy test); supporters point out that suppressing periods reduces the risk of ovarian cancer and anemia and lessens, if not eliminates, the symptoms of PMS. Plus, if you're among the women who view having their period as a pain in the neck (if not the uterus), not having to menstruate is itself a big plus, regardless of the other potential health benefits.

So what's Broadsheet readers' take on this? If Lybrel's approved, are you going to run out to stop the bleeding? Or is this tinkering too much with our bodies? And then there's my personal question: Until a generic version comes to market, how much are these suckers going to cost?

By Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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