Menstruation Suppression: The Debate

The development of the new birth control pill, Anya (also marketed under the name Lybrel),has instigated a hot debate over the topic of menstrual suppression. Doctors, researchers, and women the world over, are experiencing mixed emotions about the possibilities that Anya offers. Some support Anya as a way to offer women freedom and choice when it comes to their menstrual cycles, while others worry that Anya threatens the very foundation of womanhood. Many believe that Anya will offer women some excellent health benefits while others are very concerned that Anya will negatively affect reproductive and overall health.

Anya Supporters
Since its development, Anya has gained many supporters, ranging from noteworthy gynecologists to the millions of women who suffer from painful periods every month.

Supporters believe that Anya will offer women more freedom and choice when it comes to their reproductive selves. Instead of being tied down to a harsh 13-period-a-year schedule, Anya allows women to experience life without that monthly curse. Researchers also note that Anya may actually have many health benefits, helping to prevent anemia, migraines, ovarian cancer.

Anya supporters also argue that menstrual suppression is completely safe and normal. In fact, the periods that women experience on the regular 21-day birth control pill aren't actually real periods at all. Instead, they are merely induced by hormones to replicate a period. Therefore, the continuous use of Anya is not significantly different from prolonged use of conventional birth control pills.

Anya Critics
Not everyone is happy about the introduction of Anya to the contraceptive marketplace. Many women balk at the idea of having no more menstrual periods. Some believe that Anya only propagates the historical belief that menstruation is messy, wrong, and immoral.

Researchers also worry about the long-term health effects that Anya may have on women. The menstrual period has been shown to wash away bacteria from inside the reproductive tract, and also helps the body to get rid of excess iron, which can help lower a woman's risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The suppression of menstruation may also interfere with breast and bone development as well as long-term fertility. For example, Depo-Provera, which also suppresses the menstrual cycle, has been found to cause irreversible bone loss, so Anya may be found to do the same.

Since the long-term health risks have yet to be assessed, critics feel that the public should not be encouraged to embrace this new contraceptive so quickly. They site the example of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) as an instance where a treatment was purported to be extremely safe and beneficial even when used over a long period of time. However, further research showed that using HRT for a prolonged period was actually detrimental to a woman's health and increased her risk of various health issues, including heart attacks, strokes and blood clots.

Over the next few years, long-term studies will no doubt give answers to these perplexing unknowns about the future of menstruation.

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