New medical technology gives women more options in birth control

“Many women soldiers are carrying large quantities of birth control pills to Iraq, hoping that by taking the pill continuously they can eliminate their monthly periods while they fight a war,” according to an article by Sherry Jacobson from the Dallas Morning News.

In the article, oral contraceptives prove to be “the favored form of reversible birth control for millions of American women.”

In today’s society, women have many choices for birth control including “40 kinds of pills…the vaginal contraceptive ring (NuvaRing), a new monthly injection (Lunelle) and the contraceptive patch (Ortho Evra),” according to the article.

There is only one type of drug in the world recognized as “the pill.” Oral contraceptives have changed many women’s lives, however many changes in the market continue to improve women’s choices in birth control.

Many women today seek ways to avoid their period due to extensive back pain, cramps, migraines and many other symptoms.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an oral contraceptive on September 5, 2003 called Seasonale that is taken for 84 consecutive days. According to a press release on Seasonale’s website, “the regimen is designed to reduce the number of periods from 13 to 4 per year.”

According to the National Library for Medicine website, a study that was done by the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine tested the efficacy of the Seasonale product versus the tradition 21 day oral contraceptive.

The study proved that Seasonale “was effective in preventing pregnancy and had a safety profile that was comparable to that observed with the 28-day OC (oral contraceptive) regimen.”

Many women may appreciate the new Seasonale oral contraceptive, however some other forms of contraceptives have been widely accepted.

The patch is a new favorite for women using birth control. Ortho Evra also known as “the patch”, approved by the FDA in November of 2001, has now been on the market since late April of 2002.

According to Ortho Evra’s website, the patch works by delivering “hormones directly through your skin and into your bloodstream.”

Women simply place the patch any where on their skin and replace the patch once a week for three consecutive weeks. It is best if women change the patch on the same exact day each week.

The primary disadvantage with the extended cycle oral contraceptive, Seasonale, is that fewer periods can cause problems. The primary advantage of Seasonale is that it allows women to avoid the symptoms of their period, however this may not be the best answer.

According to the article from the Dallas Morning News, “the method is likely to raise questions about whether or not women should suppress their ‘natural cycle.'”

The article in the Dallas Morning News interviewed numerous doctors regarding the effects of an extended cycle oral contraceptive, including Dr. Patricia Sulak, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Texas A&M University’s College of Medicine. Dr. Sulak was not available for comment before deadline.

However, in the article Dr. Sulak said, “it’s a treatment for endometriosis and for women who have horrible cramps with their periods,” regarding Seasonale.

In addition, the article concluded by saying, “of Seasonale’s market potential, Dr. Sulak predicts, ‘it’s going to be huge.'”

Seasonale will be available by prescription only at the end of October 2003. Ortho Evra is currently available by prescription only.

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