Wednesday, May 23, 2007

On the pill, off the rag

The FDA has just approved the use of Lybrel (Wyeth) as a birth control pill. The pill, not yet approved for use in Canada, is a combination of levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol - two hormones already in use as contraceptives. In contrast to traditional oral contraceptives which typically have an 21 day on, 7 day off (or placebo) cycle, Lybrel is taken daily and inhibits both ovulation and uterine changes required for menstruation. Of course, as with any drug, there are always fun potential side effects which include:
  • unscheduled bleeding (while menstruation stops, 18% of women dropped out of the study due to unscheduled bleeding and spotting)
  • fluid retention
  • spotty darkening of the skin (not so great for those on the pill to control acne)
  • other various side effects such as nausea, depression and headache.

Does an end to menstruation spell an end to PMS? How long until this pill is marketed that way? Now if we can just get them to start working on my hangover pill.


5 comments:

Bayman said...

A man having that kind of knowledge is just so wrong...

kamel said...

The Onion's take on this news.

Dr. Edge said...

Actually, this product is no different chemically from current on the market oral contraceptive pills (OCPs), it's just being marketed differently. Despite traditional OCPs being marketed as 21 days on and 7 days off during which time will menstruate, it's not a regular period. It's simply an estrogen withdrawal bleed and completely unnecessary. Doctors will often tell their patients to take their OCPs without a break if they don't want a period. Maybe if the OCP was originally designed by a woman, there never would have been this 7 days off for a "period" in the first place!
However, a number of women will have spotting if they take the pill everyday as the uterus lining slowly builds and sloughs off over time. Some of the soon to be on the market OCPs recommend taking a 1 week break every 3 months to avoid this.
As for the other side effects Kamel mentioned, they're no different from any other OCP or from pregnancy for that matter!

Anonymous said...

i really dont understand why this is news-as doctor edge says-nothing really new here-in my opinion, just some aggressive marketing by an eager drug company

Bayman said...

I for one will not fall prey to this pharma propaganda..acutally I don't know what they're talking about...I never get any of those symptoms??...