Misconception

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WHAT WOMEN (REALLY) WANT: THE BIRTH CONTROL PILL TURNS 5

Posted by avnerhershlag on May 4, 2010

Is menstruating once a month good for you?

Pincus, who developed the first contraceptive pill, wrote in 1958: ‘a cycle of any desired length could presumably be produced.”

However, the belief that having a period every month is normal.

What’s good about having a period?

  • Hippocrates wrote: “menstruation was designed to cleanse women of bad humors.”
  • Many cultures believe that a woman is impure during the period and even several days afterwords.
  • Orthodox Jewish religion prohibits sex and other physical contact for 7 days post menses,.  Sex can only be resumed after the woman purifies herself in a water bath, the “Mikveh.”
  • Menstruating women in Islam are exempt from prayers, fasting and pilgrimage to Mecca.  They are not allowed to have sex, but may have other contact with their husband.
  • When a woman gets her scheduled period, she knows that she is not pregnant.  A relief for some.  For others, a period signifies fertility, and that soon, in a couple of weeks, she will ovulate and have another chance to get pregnant.
  • So the traditional pill was designed in keeping with the natural schedule; 21 days of active pills and 7 days of placebo will give you, by design, regular ‘period” every 28 days.

In recent years, new contraceptives have become available that reduce the number of bleeding episodes annually.

How do women view these new options?

Benagiano et al (Patient Prefer Adherence.,2009) reviewed so the attitudes towards the new pills:

US:

  • Black women conservative – prefer monthly period.
  • 2/3 of  white women don’t like monthly bleeds and would prefer bleeding-free intervals ranging from 90 days to no periods at all.
  • 40% of these women – ready to consider using a hormonal contraceptive that stops menstruation altogether. (Kaunitz, Contraception. 2000)

Europe:

  • How many women would like to have no periods?
  • Netherlands: 25%
  • France: 57%
  • Italy: 29%
  • Germany – 37-46%
  • Spain: 5% only, but 50% of women < 25 years old.

Continuous birth control pills are safe.  In a multicenter European study (Teichmann et al, Contraception 2009), continuous pills (90 mcg levonorgerstrel/20 mcg ethinyl estradiol) resulted in 535 amenorrhea after a year and 79% no bleeding (with or without spotting) After 1 year.

Return to fertility following discontinuation of oral contraceptives

A recent survey (Barnhardt & Schreiber, Fert Steril 2009 Mar 91:659-63), reported that the return of fertility in former OC users (both cyclical and extended/continuous regimens) in women who stop to conceive is comparable to that observed with other contraceptive methods.

The reported 12-months conception rates were;

  • Cyclic OC – 72-94%
  • IUD – 70-95%
  • Condoms – 91%
  • Natural family planning – 92%

More GOOD NEWS!

Over the years, Oral Contraceptives (OCs) has been blamed for practically everything, from heart attack and stroke to cancer.

However, the WHI – the Women’s health Initiative, found that OCs do not increase the risk of breast cancer, thus diffusing a major fear from previous studies.

The WHI also reported a LOWER risk of heart attacks and strokes.

This in addition to well known benefits:

If you take OC’s over 4 years, the risk of Ovarian Cancer drops by 42% and of uterine cancer by 31%.


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