Tuesday, May 22, 2007

No More Menstruation?

A new birth control pill can suppress periods indefinitely:

Called Lybrel, the pill is expected to win Food and Drug Administration approval Tuesday, becoming the latest approved oral contraceptive to depart from the traditional 21-days-on, seven-days-off regimen that has been standard since first birth control pills were sold in the 1960s. But the Wyeth pill is the first designed to be taken continuously.

Lybrel contains the lowest dose of two hormones widely used in birth-control pills, ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel.

Taking the pill daily would let women suppress their monthly bleeding indefinitely. However, unanticipated breakthrough bleeding may occur in some women.

A female science-fiction writer once wrote a short story about a world in which women no longer need to menstruate. The point of the story was that something of that sort would be a much greater feminist victory than the kind of crap us feminists usually bother our little heads with. Or so I recall it now in my great and bitter state of exhaustion.

The idea of not menstruating is quite appealing to me. Just imagine the money saved and the convenience. But then there are the questions about possible adverse health consequences. I'd like to know more about those before deciding if this is purely good news.

Menstrual blood has long been associated with the impurity of women and may even have something to do with misogyny (though at least one feminist has inverted this idea by pointing out that menstruation could be viewed as cleansing in itself). If women no longer menstruated (except right before intended pregnancies), would women then be viewed as less filthy? I wonder.