History of the Pill
Since the advent of the birth control pill in 1960, women have taken more proactive measures in their bodies and prevention of pregnancy. The concept of controlling menstrual periods has progressed far from the days when it was a crime to use birth control as late as 1961 in Connecticut.
Women seized upon the convenience that the pill offered. By 1963, 2.3 million American women were already on the pill. Today, medical science has given women even more control with drugs to stop menstrual periods.
Types of Medications
The drugs being introduced into the market now take the action of the pill once step farther from merely controlling the timing and length of menstrual periods. With the introduction of Seasonale in 2003, women could stop menstrual periods all together for a few months at a time followed by a small window for light, breakthrough bleeding.
These drugs use female physiology to control menstrual periods. They harness the effects of female hormones which suppress ovulation. They also offer additional ways in which to prevent pregnancy by altering the cervical mucus and uterine lining which provides a barrier to sperm delivery and fertilization.
A similar effect can be achieved with standard birth control pills by skipping the week of placebo pills and moving directly to the next cycle of pills. Some may use this as a temporary way to control menstrual periods.
Safety of Suppressing Menstrual Periods
Part of the draw of drugs to stop menstrual periods is simply a matter of convenience. Women with heavy or long menstrual periods may prefer to suppress their periods rather than dealing with the unpleasantness. One factor to bear in mind is that today’s woman has more menstrual periods during the course of her lifetime because women have less children today than in the past.
The question then arises are these drugs safe. Some women may question suppressing menstrual periods because it seems unnatural or perceived as a normal part of being a woman. While the risks of standard birth controls are well researched, the long-term effects of controlling menstrual periods for extended periods of time.
This factor may be of concern for women trying to become pregnant after going off the medications. Evidence however, does not find a human health benefit of repeated ovulation. For women who have heavy menstrual periods, these drugs may reduce their risk of anemia or endometriosis which may make them a viable option.
If the idea having more control over your reproductive system sounds attractive, you should discuss the use of these drugs with your doctor. These drugs may be right for you if you are healthy and do not severe high blood pressure or a history of other cardiovascular conditions.
Photo by Melissa Ramirez, stock.xchng
Drugsite Trust: Seasonale drugs.com
PBS: Timeline: The Pill pbs.org
G. Tortora et al. Principles of Anatomy and Physiology. 2005.