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Pill that eliminates menstrual cycle okayed

Despite the fact that Lybrel has major side effects like blood clots and strokes, the US Food and Drug Administration has approved it.

health and fitness Updated: May 26, 2007 03:28 IST

US Food and Drug Administration has approved a birth control pill Lybrel which could stop a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle.

Lybrel which is made by pharmaceutical company Wyeth, is a twice-daily medicine which stops monthly menstrual bleeding for an indefinite period and prevents pregnancy.

The pill contains two hormones which are commonly used in other oral contraceptives, levonorgestrel (a progestin) and ethinyl estradiol (an estrogen). And although such pills have been used by women, Lybrel is the first one to be approved.

Wyeth conducted a study to see the effect of the pill on more than 2400 women aged 18 to 49.

Researchers found that 59 percent of the women who took Lybrel for one year had no bleeding or spotting during the last month.

"The convenience of having no scheduled menstruation should be weighed against the inconvenience of unscheduled bleeding or spotting," New Scientist quoted the agency, as saying.

According to US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), since it takes time to stop periods, women may have intermittent bleeding or spotting during the first year of using the pill.

Daniel Shames, deputy director of the FDA office that reviews contraceptives, said that women may have bleeding for 4 to 5 days each month but the frequency will decrease with time.

He however noted that almost half of the women in the study dropped out before that time.

The pill, which should be available in pharmacies in July, has some major side effects like blood clots and strokes.

The pill has however been approved but its use is also been questioned by many people.

According to sociologist Jean Elson of the University of New Hampshire in Durham, US, the pill is hindering a natural process.

"Menstrual manipulation appears to be another in a long line of attempts to medicalise women's natural biological life events," Elson said.

First Published: May 25, 2007 14:00 IST