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Ladies, Let’s Zap Your Periods

First it’s zapping bad memories (see previous article) and now – monthly periods for women. Gents, you may think of this post as “for ladies only” but keep reading: this has general biological implications for either gender.

Did you know that a small percentage – 8% according to this NYT report – of women have such painful periods that the condition qualifies as a disorder?

Enter Wyeth – a company manufacturing a pill that will zap debilitating periods – “forever”.

Since I haven’t yet seen DTC or marketing campaigns for this product, I’ll reserve the “disease mongering” judgment that anti-pharma activists or consumer groups may dole out. My main concerns will be:

Whether there will even be a DTC for this product. If there is, then the gloves come off. There is no reason to have a massive commercial campaign for a disorder debilitating 8% of women unless the company wants to market this product as a “lifestyle drug” for those women who view periods as completely unnecessary and a hindrance to their lifestyle.

How menstrual periods will be portrayed in the media. I maintain that periods are not a “disability” but a natural biological function that serves a purpose. My adolescent years were plagued by such monthly pain that my hands and feet would literally seize up before I collapse to the floor and dry-heave. It was THAT painful. I empathize with women who were unfortunate enough to experience this well into mature adulthood. I have to say that birth control pills was a serious help in mitigating the intensity of that pain (acetaminophen and ibuprofen were also lifesavers for me). However bothersome such monthly “inconvenience” is, I would never consider manipulating my own hormones with drugs unless I was faced with a major health reason (see next point for why).

How long term safety will be portrayed by industry and in the media. Remember hormone replacement therapy and the side effects that didn’t become apparent until years later? As a former cancer researcher, I am leery of any drugs that alter any endocrine functions.

Where the lines are between medical need and lifestyle/personal preference. If we start zapping menstrual periods, what’s next, drugs that would work at the site of spermatogenesis and render sperm incompetent as a “convenient male contraceptive”?

Updated: June 30, 2013 — 8:07 am

2 Comments

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  1. I am 40 years old and have had bad periods since I was 13, though I am otherwise healthy and fit.I have no intention of having children, and I am very interested in having fewer periods. I have never taken birth control pills before. Do you really think it’s a bad idea for me to try one of these pills that might relieve me of some misery several days per month? I have an appt with my doctor to discuss this in August, but I am seeking many second opinions ahead of time.

  2. Hi Wendy,

    If you and your doctor talk about your symptoms and medical history, and your doc decides that you belong to this 8% group of women targeted by such a drug, then potentially eliminating your period altogether may be *one* option. That is up to you and your doctor to jointly decide.

    On the other hand, you said you have never taken birth control pills (BCP) before, and my question is, “would it make sense to first consider traditional birth control pills as a therapy for extremely painful periods?” Again that is for you and your doctor to decide – but if you’ve never taken even taken BCP before, then this may also be an option that you can discuss with your doctor.

    Speaking from personal experience (and as you’ve read from my article), the pain I experienced was alleviated in part by BCP. While I would still need to take an analgesic (ibuprofen or acetaminophen) the first day, I have found that while on the pill, my periods were shorter and less painful.

    My main concern with stopping periods altogether, as I’ve alluded to in my article, is that we don’t know what the long term side effects are of doing this. Side effects may not only be childbearing, but may include a host of other health issues in women.

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