Pills for ‘perfect’ women

Melinda Tankard Reist – Couriermail.com.au May 28, 2007
EVERY time you turn around it seems someone has come up with a new drug or surgery to redesign women. Weight-loss pills, drugs to stave off ageing, cosmetic surgery, liposuction, botox. Women can’t just be themselves – there’s always someone who wants to intervene to enhance them – usually someone out to make money. This week brought the announcement of a new pill to eliminate a process usually seen as a healthy sign of a woman’s reproductive functioning: her monthly menstrual period.The US Food and Drug Administration has just approved Lybrel – a name supposed to make us think of liberty – manufactured by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. When taken daily, the pill is designed to get rid of a woman’s menstrual period. While there are already pills that limit a woman’s periods to four a year, Lybrel is intended to produce no periods at all.Women in the US are being told they don’t have to feel fat and messy every month. Teens are even told they’ll do better academically if they’re on the pill, and that their social lives will improve. These unsupported claims are patronising and disrespectful of young women. The drug’s supporters say it’s natural and healthy for women not to have a regular menstrual bleed, even though there is no evidence to support this. The long-term safety of these pills is unknown and the existing safety data frighteningly limited.