Definition of Lybrel:
Lybrel is a brand new combination birth control pill that is the first extended-cycle oral contraceptive designed to supply an active dose of hormones every day. This pill will completely stop a woman's period for a full year. It contains 365 90 microgram levonorgestrel/20 microgram ethinyl estradiol tablets and is classified as a low dose, continuous, non-cyclic combination oral contraceptive. Lybrel was approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on May 22, 2007 as the first, and only, birth control pill that is also designed to eliminate women's monthly periods.
How it Works:
Lybrel will work just like other combination birth control pills. The difference is that it will supply a steady low dose of ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel to be taken 365 days of the year without a pill-free interval or placebo period. Lybrel will prevent menstruation as long as the pill is taken daily.
The most recent study of 187 women taking Lybrel found that 99 percent of the women began menstruation within 90 days (3 months) after discontinuing use. Additionally, 4 women became pregnant before their period returned, and 2 women reported a return to menses more than 90 days after the completion of the study.
The Debate Surrounding Lybrel:
Opponents claim that it is unnatural or harmful to manipulate a woman's menstrual cycle by completely stopping her period. The reality, however, is that by using birth control pills, in and of itself, women are already manipulating their menstrual cycles. Given that few women naturally have a regular 28-day menstrual cycle, pill use automatically manipulates a woman's cycle causing it to be a perfect 28-day cycle.
An important distinction that should be made is that women who take oral contraceptives do not have a "true" period; they actually experience what is known as withdrawal bleeding on the seven days they are off the active hormones. The bleeding tends to be shorter and lighter than a regular period because the uterine lining does not build up in women who use the pill, so there is less that needs to be shed. Basically, once the hormones are not taken (as during the fourth week of a pill cycle), the small buildup of the lining of the uterus is discarded. Women on Lybrel get continuous hormones (without days off the active pills), so they should have little or no uterine bleeding.
This so-called period that occurs during regular 21 or 28 day combination birth control packs really has no medical function other than reassuring a woman that she is not pregnant. In fact, according to Dr. Steven Goldstein, professor of OB-GYN at New York University School of Medicine, "scientists who invented birth control pills back in the 1960s thought that women would be more likely to take them if they included a period week."
Women have chosen to avoid their periods through manipulating their birth control pills due to physically demanding jobs, upcoming honeymoons or vacations, and/or severe period-related symptoms. For decades, medical professionals have been advising women on how to do this properly. Up until now, many pill users have chosen to avoid having a period by starting a new pill pack during the fourth week (when one's period usually occurs).
Advantages and Benefits of Lybrel:
- The FDA approval of Lybrel is reflective of the wishes of the American public. A national poll found that 60 percent of women would appreciate not having a period every month and one-third would choose never to have one
- Gynecologist, Dr. Anita L. Nelson, professor of OB-GYN at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, advises that all women using birth control can benefit from having more control over their bodies. She further claims, in regard to the withdrawal bleeding that occurs while using the pill, "women need to realize that there is no health benefit to this."
- Medical authorities state that there are no health risks or medical reasons women need to have a monthly period
- Eliminating the menstrual week of a woman's cycle (as Lybrel will do), will cause hormonal levels to stabilize which often leads to a reduction or complete elimination of the symptoms associated with this week such as: bloating, cramping, irritability, headaches, tender breasts, and other various aches and pains
- According to Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (the manufacturer of Lybrel), 59 percent of women taking Lybrel stopped bleeding after six months of use
- Eliminating periods through the use of continuous oral contraceptives has been shown to be an effective treatment for many health-related problems, such as endometriosis, anemia, and epilepsy
- The use of Lybrel will save women money because they would no longer have to buy feminine hygiene products and/or period-related medications to treat headaches and other PMS symptoms
- One study reported that after seven to 13 pill packs, women on Lybrel reported less nausea and breast pain than those on a 21-day birth control pill. Researchers found, in a different study, that three months of taking Lybrel reduced PMS and associated complaints in 114 women (Source: Planned Parenthood)
- Since Lybrel contains a lower daily dose of synthetic hormones than traditional combination pills, the cumulative monthly dose may actually be equal to or lower than some of the other brands women are currently taking