The first birth control pill designed to stop a woman’s menstrual period is making its way to various pharmacies around the country this month.
Lybrel, manufactured by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on May 22, 2007. The oral contraceptive contains low doses of hormones eithinyl estrinol and levonorgestrel – common ingredients found in many birth control pills. Lybrel is designed to be taken 365 days a year, without a placebo pill interval. Its effectiveness in ideal conditions, where a woman takes the pill at the correct time every day, is about 99.7 percent, which is the same as most other birth control pills.
According to Amy Reichbach, health educator at the Klotz Student Health Center, its side effects are no different than any other birth control pill, and are most common in the first three months of use. These include: nausea, breast tenderness, weight gain or loss, moodiness, change in sex drive, and breakthrough bleeding/spotting.
“I think it’s important to tell women ‘Don’t freak out if you get this,'” Reichbach said. “[It] doesn’t mean that it’s not responding well to your body. It takes about three months for your body to get used to it.”
Although the breakthrough bleeding and spotting.
“When women first start to use oral contraceptives, their endometrial lining has to adjust to the hormones they’re getting, so irregular spotting is understandable. However, by the third pack of pills, 70 to 90 percent of women have no further breakthrough bleeding or spotting,” Reichbach said, citing a passage from “Contraceptive Technology 18th Edition.”
Avoiding a menstrual period can be beneficial to women planning a vacation, athletes with demanding schedules, or women who experience severe period-related symptoms.
Reichbach said not having a menstrual period can potentially be a psychological issue with some women.
“There are lots of women who find it reassuring to get a period,” Reichbach said. “Because to them, it’s proof that they’re not pregnant.”
Opponents of Lybrel have made the argument that it is unsafe to postpone a woman’s menstrual period. But Reichbach adds that no woman’s cycle falls perfectly within 28 days, so the standard birth control pill has already been modifying their cycles for over 47 years.
Although the Klotz Student Health Center does not currently carry Lybrel, students can be referred to a doctor who could prescribe whatever contraception method they choose.