Tuesday, May 22, 2007

FDA approves contraceptive that stops periods

(05-22) 14:56 PDT WASHINGTON -- The Food and Drug Administration today approved the first birth-control pill that can stop a woman's period indefinitely.

Lybrel, which is made by pharmaceutical giant Wyeth, contains hormone doses lower than oral contraceptives already available. It is designed for women to take every day of the month, instead of a cycle of 21 days on and 7 days off that is used for most other birth-control pills.

Unscheduled bleeding can occur while on Lybrel, and the pill will not halt menstruation in all women.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The pill is expected to be made widely available by the end of summer, when it will become clear whether women who have grown accustomed to viewing their menstrual cycle as a sign of health and fertility will embrace the idea of skipping their period altogether.

Other forms of birth control -- including Depo-Provera, a shot given every three months, and Implanon, a drug-coated stick that is implanted in a woman's arm -- also are known to stop most women's periods. And for decades, women have taken oral contraceptives already on the market to stop their periods, either indefinitely or for a temporary convenience.

Lybrel is the first oral contraceptive to be designed and marketed specifically for eliminating periods.

E-mail Erin Allday at eallday@sfchronicle.com.

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