Monday, April 30, 2007

The Demise of a Period in Women's History

You feel like your body is stuffed with sand, and if you were to jump into a pool, you would no longer float. Still, everything in the snack machine looks divine, and you crave something salty and sweet simultaneously. One of your coworkers forgets to smile at you in passing, so you stomp back to your office and vow to not smile at anyone the rest of the day. Then you glance at your calendar and realize you are a week away from your period. Suddenly your change in mood makes sense. Now all you have to do is explain to everyone that it is your time of the month, and they will know to keep a distance. What if you could escape this monthly cycle instead?

Since the pioneer efforts of Margaret Sanger, women continue to assume greater control over their bodies. With access to birth control pills, women are able to manipulate the timing and occurrence of their periods. The Seasonale birth control pill already reduces the period to occurring quarterly (1). Now the FDA is debating whether to approve Lybrel, a continuous-use birth control pill manufactured by Wyeth (1). With Lybrel, women would be unburdened of monthly periods altogether.

Pending approval of this new pill, women and healthcare workers experience mixed feelings. Recognizing the setbacks of menstruation and its varying degrees of severity among women, many people argue that the new pill will relieve women of a monthly event that ultimately slows them down (1). Other people remain skeptical of the long-term effects of suppressing the menstrual cycle (1).

Do you want a pre-menopausal way to stop menstruating? Is this type of pill a practical consideration for working women, or is it science's attempt to homogenize the sexes? Would you feel like less of a woman without this natural bodily function? Do you have reservations about the potential long-term consequences of such a pill, or are you willing to accept the risk for monthly relief?

1. Saul, Stephanie. Pill that Eliminates the Period Gets Mixed Reviews. The New York Times. 20 April 2007.

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