Medical Minute: Pill Controversy

New products have emerged on the market in recent years that reduce the number of monthly periods that women have but not everyone agrees this is a good idea.

When Claudia works out, she has one less thing to sweat over.

"I choose not to have my period very often."

Six years ago, Claudia changed her pill regimen to avoid having her period on graduation. She just skipped the placebo pills and continued taking the active pills. Since then, Claudia has reduced having her periods to four times a year.

"If I'm already on the pill, I don't see myself having lots of periods when they are not necessary."

Dr. J.K. Williams says women on the pill don't actually have a period. They have a withdrawal bleed every month to make the pattern seem "normal."

“It's never made any sense to force a woman to have a withdrawal bleed every 28 days, so that we could fulfill someone's marketing goal," says J.K. Williams, M.D. Gynecologist

Instead of 21 days, a woman takes the pill for 84 continuous days. That means nine extra weeks of hormones a year.

"The question is, is that a risk and the answer is we really don't know yet," says Connie Micklavzina

Dr. Connie Micklavzina worries the extra hormones could increase the risk of breast cancer and fibroids.

"I would hate to see us put millions of women on combined long-term birth control pills without their periods and then find out 30 years later that we were wrong. By taking it continuously, taking more of them, theoretically, over a lifetime, there is no reason to believe there is an increased risk of something that probably isn't there in the first place."

Risk or not, Claudia says she'll take the chance to control her own period and life.

For more information, contact:

American Cancer Society
www.cancer.org

Sexual Medicine Society of North America, Inc.
http://www.smsna.org/

Association of Reproductive Health Professionals
www.arhp.org

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