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Posted by pocochina on April 25, 2007

To set the record unequivocally straight, I fully support the approval of Lybrel.  A pill which can make women’s lives easier without causing harm is an unequivocal good, and the FDA has a responsibility to approve and regulate it appropriately.  That’s their job.

Many women have physical and physiological reasons for their wish to eliminate their periods – PMDD, cramps, heavy flow, I’m sure I’m missing dozens.  Many more simply don’t like their periods.  All of these women should have access to a pill which would safely allow them to skip their periods.  As with birth control, abortion, and a host of other issues, I don’t care about a woman’s reason for her choice, I simply care that she has one.

Feminists who are uncomfortable with period suppression drugs (and I don’t think many, if any at all, of them are actually arguing against approval, just pointing out what they see as social and personal complexities) seem to mostly be pointing out a couple main issues – body shame about periods and corporate profit off of women’s reproductive cycles.

Yeah, I wonder what that world would be like.

Body shame about periods takes some of us years to get over – the rest of us never get over it.  A pill which would allow some women to never have a period wouldn’t make it worse.  It would allow women who, for whatever reason, suffer deeply from that particular form of body shame to bypass it altogether.  This is a good thing.  I’m not going to argue that it’s anyone’s place, mine or the FDA’s, to tell them to buck up and get over it.  I’d rather live in a world where nobody has body shame, but how each individual woman deals with that is her deal.  As a society, we’re still dealing with this “woman owns her own body” affair.  Getting past shame about our periods requires women to have all our options available, make our decisions about what’s healthiest for us, and be as honest as possible with ourselves about our reasons for the choices we make.  Concern about girls in particular strikes me as especially weird – are doctors really going to prescribe pills that aren’t medically necessary to teenagers?  And if they do, is it any of our business?  The external crap women have to put up with for daring to have reproductive systems is huge.  It’s way, way bigger than this new modified birth control pill.

And corporate profit off of women’s bodies?  Please.  Tampons, pantiliners, Midol, every other damn thing anyone can think of, there’s plenty of money being made off of our periods already.  That Special Movie on the Day Only the Boys Had Recess?  I’m pretty sure mine was sponsored by Tampax, or whatever the hell company owns Tampax.  Again, this particular pill won’t make things worse.  Some women will save money, some will spend a little more, mostly it’ll just be a shifting of resources in order to make our lives run.   (And for those women whose doctors feel they’ll be healthier skipping their periods?  Continuing to push health care to cover birth control?  I’ll pick that fight any day.)  And I can’t stand libertarian pollyannas who think that the market will solve every last thing, but if it provides a little corporate incentive to continue investing in helping our bodies to function as well as possible, well, this hippie pinko feminist certainly won’t complain.

I don’t forsee myself using this pill.  When I’m not having sex, I don’t like to be pumping extra hormones into my body; when I am, I’d rather be sure I’m not pregnant.  I’ve recently started using the DivaCup, meaning that after that initial $40 investment, I haven’t had to drop much money at all on period products, plus I’m reducing my trash production, even if only a little.  My period just doesn’t bother me enough to want to get rid of it, and it reassures me that for the most part, that part of my body is working the way I want it to.  But that’s my choice.

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