Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Medicating 'normality'

So finally there is a pill on the horizon that seems to be a remedy for the 'curse'.

The oral contraceptive, approved in the U.S. but not yet in Canada, claims to "put an indefinite stop to women's monthly periods".

Ironically, if a young woman is not menstruating 'normally', she is usually urged to seek medical help to try to discover the cause. Therefore, disease is in the eye of the afflicted, I suppose.

There are some concerns being voiced:

"For women in that situation (severe symptoms), I certainly can understand the benefits of taking these kinds of medications, but for most women menstruation is a normal life event -- not a medical condition," said Jean Elson of the University of New Hampshire.

"Why medicate away a normal life event if we're not sure of the long-term effects?


HRT comes to mind as an example of a treatment that was originally prescribed to help mitigate some of the symptoms of another very 'normal' female stage - menopause. Now the therapy is thought to have some serious potential side-effects, and physicians are much less inclined to approve this type of medication.

My spidy sense tells me that the new pill could be a useful tool for an occasional situation of convenience, or if a woman has some serious menstrual issues, but in general best to let nature take its course.


So anyway, now another natural female function joins unwanted pregnancy as a sickness requiring medical intervention. If Canada buys into this, will we be funding this in our National Health Care system as well? Just like abortion, illness in some cases will be determined by the convenience factor, and the whim of the woman.

And speaking of abortion, if the fetus is just a bunch of unwanted tissue, why isn't it regarded as a cosmetic procedure, and therefore delisted just like non-malignant mole removal? Or liposuction?

Just asking.

25 comments:

Red Tory said...

Boy, and I thought I liked to poke things with sticks!

I like the way you offhandedly threw that little bit in there suggesting that maybe abortions should be considered a “cosmetic” procedure. What a shit-disturber. Errr, excuse my language. I mean, how provocative of you.

BTW, I can’t believe you actually called it “the curse.” I thought women absolutely hated that. My wife would smack me upside the head if I ever said that.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

lol! Red, tell your wife to read my post. I would love to hear her thoughts!

Red Tory said...

As for taking the bait (being a troll and all), I’ll oblige by putting a question back to you. Wouldn’t making abortion a “cosmetic” procedure in effect trivialize something that should be regarded by every decent person as a very serious issue. While I clearly understand your motives for making the suggestion given that you’re a so-called pro-lifer, wouldn’t such a move be a tacit admission that abortion is a morally neutral act? Is that really a place you want to go? Something to think about...

Joanne (True Blue) said...

wouldn’t such a move be a tacit admission that abortion is a morally neutral act?

I hear you, and that last bit was somewhat tongue in cheek. However, the contention by Pro-choicers is that it is tissue; not human life.

They have trivialized the issue right there themselves. Why should I have to pay for their weight-reduction program?

Red Tory said...

Regarding the “medical intervention” part, I’d agree with you that while this new medication may have benefits in certain extreme cases, for the most part it’s something just best coped with naturally.

My wife is very much opposed to the frivolous use of pharmaceuticals in general and messing about with women’s hormones in particular, so I’m pretty confident she would agree with you on this one.

She does have a friend though who might make a good candidate for this Lybrel stuff. There’s a good week or so each month when she’s even more insufferable than usual. Apparently, she gets quite emotionally distressed when menstruating. For a long time I just ascribed this to “being a complete bitch” until I was advised that I should be more sensitive to her plight.

Red Tory said...

However, the contention by Pro-choicers is that it is tissue; not human life.

I can’t presume to say what “Pro-choicers” contend. That seems like a gross oversimplification of their position, but it’s impossible to get into this topic without immediately hitting a slippery slope of some kind or other. When “life” begins, the meaning of “life,” when a fetus is regarded as a “person” and when “rights” enter into the matter, and so on. It’s an absolute minefield. Perhaps there are “Pro-choicers” who take that quite extreme position because otherwise logic would dictate that, as the Catholic Church and others maintain, “life” begins at the moment of conception (i.e., fertilization) which essentially equates to an absolute zero-tolerance with respect to abortion.

Ruth said...

Yikes! Listen to what the good dctor says:
Marla Shapiro told CTV's Canada AM. "From a medical point of view and an evidence-based medical point of view, there is really no reason that women necessarily need to have a period."
Ack! From what medical point of view is she talking about? I'd love to know.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

There’s a good week or so each month when she’s even more insufferable than usual. Apparently, she gets quite emotionally distressed when menstruating.

There can be a lot of pain and exhaustion involved too. I think that is a medical issue and deserving of the medication of course.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

I can’t presume to say what “Pro-choicers” contend.

I'm just saying they can't have it both ways - Dismiss the fetus as just so much unwanted tissue and then expect the Canadian public to pay for their excess tissue extraction.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Ruth, I think a lot of doctors and experts in the field would disagree with Dr. Marla; especially on a long-term basis.

All we have to do is look at the the HRT situation to realize that it is important to be prudent in these matters. I'm glad Health Canada hasn't approved this yet. I hope they really take the time to study the whole thing very carefully.

MadMacs of Bytown said...

..uh, well actually...I was looking for a hockey post...so, I'll leave this...and leave....

Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Health Headlines with Dr. Barry Dworkin
Madely in the Morning - 6:50am --- Steve Madely and Dr. Dworkin discuss the latest health stories of the day.

Today's topic: A Pill to Stop Menstruation

Ask your questions to Dr. Dworkin at sundayhousecall.com

http://www.cfra.com/chum_audio/Dworkin_May23.mp3

Joanne (True Blue) said...

lol! Thanks for the tip, Madmacs. I hope I didn't make you feel uncomfortable.

My hubby is a huge hockey fan (Habs). Someday I'll get him to guest blog about sports.

Red Tory said...

Joanne — I'm just saying they can't have it both ways - Dismiss the fetus as just so much unwanted tissue and then expect the Canadian public to pay for their excess tissue extraction.

I completely take your point. However, I don’t know who “they” represent. Certainly, as I indicated, there is a constituency within the group of people who support a woman’s right to reproductive self-determination who feel that way and take a quite extremely rigid stance on the matter, but it’s not necessarily representative of all who might be described as “pro-choice.”

Also, as I said, to regard abortion in the manner you suggest (perhaps facetiously) would be to render it morally neutral and that would be a completely self-defeating position for someone claiming to be “pro-life” to take.

Again, I appreciate how desperately you want to rub the noses of pro-choice absolutists in some gritty practicality (i.e., having to pay for the procedure themselves) that should rightly follow as a logical consequence of their position, but in doing so, you jeopardize the moral integrity of your own position. Bit of a dilemma that.

valiantmauz said...

Little understood factoid: All birth control pills on the market suppress menstruation completely. The very first birth control pill ever made (50 years ago now) also completely suppressed menstruation.

The bleeding each month (when on the pill) is not a natural or necessary flush of the uterine lining - the pill suppresses the thickening in the first place. The bleeding is actually a response to the sudden withdrawal of the pill's hormones.

In effect, the Lybrel pill stops women from experiencing hormone withdrawal, it does not "suppress the period".

The pill is the most studied medication we have ever developed, and this "new" pill isn't new at all. Women have been skipping the sugar pills in the pack to get the same effect for years, already.

The hysteria isn't necessary.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Again, I appreciate how desperately you want to rub the noses of pro-choice absolutists in some gritty practicality (i.e., having to pay for the procedure themselves) that should rightly follow as a logical consequence of their position, but in doing so, you jeopardize the moral integrity of your own position.

Good point. I will give that serious consideration. Thanks.

Have you had a personality transplant BTW? You seem more mellow; more civil...

Almost nice.

Red Tory said...

Joanne — LOL. I suppose it depends on your definition of "nice" (or almost so). Perhaps "less abrasive" shall we say? Call it a change in the emotional weather.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Call it a change in the emotional weather.

Well, it's very pleasant indeed. I think we could give lessons to the HoC.

Anonymous said...

The push towards more 'equality' towards men: women really don't have to menstruate because really women weren't meant to carry babies..really..you know...'cuz having a period just reminds us about the reproduction system in our bodies and who really wants to go there?
/sarc.
I say lets celebrate the differences and accept who we are..

Joanne (True Blue) said...

The push towards more 'equality' towards men: women really don't have to menstruate because really women weren't meant to carry babies..really..you know.

Yep. That thought crossed my mind too.

And Valiantmauz just confirmed it.

valiantmauz said...

Confirmed what, Joanne - other than the fact that Lybrel is just like every other birth control pill on the market?

The bleeding with other pills is cosmetic - an artificial break in hormone levels that causes breakthrough or "withdrawal bleeding". It is not - repeat not - the same as the normal build up and shedding of the uterine lining that occurs in a woman's regular cycle.

All hormonal birth control pills suppress the uterine lining build-up. That's why women bleed less on birth control than they do without.

Every woman on the pill since 1950 has been having fake "periods". That is an incontrovertible fact.

The point is - there is no reason other than ignorance or willful hysteria to get worked up about this pill.

The story is making the rounds of every right-wing website as if it's Armageddon approaching. Armageddon, if that's how one wishes to view hormonal birth control, got here in 1950 or thereabouts.

Frankly, I am not on the pill and have no need of birth control, period. If, however, I decide to go on a year-round trip, I'll being seeing my doctor faster than you can say "Tampax".

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Valiantmauz, I'm impressed with your knowledge of this field.

I was pondering your comment earlier, and thinking that if a lesbian never wanted to have a baby, then menstruation would be a nuisance. So of course you would have researched this area.

I suppose hysterectomy is also an option, but a bit extreme?

valiantmauz said...

Well, I don't want children, but a hysterectomy is far too extreme to consider, not to mention seeing what my poor mum had to go through when she had one due to endometriosis [sic?].

I have considered the pill to regulate what I consider to be extreme mood changes linked to PMS. Not to mention the whole expensive, inconvenient and nasty business every month.

But then, I do have the peace of mind that comes with a "perfect" 28 day cycle. If something goes wrong with the works, it's going to be obvious.

As an aside - right-wing wheezing about the End of Reproduction As We Know It irritates me no less than the Pagan Goddesses Revel In Their Moon Blood posture of many of my peers. If right-wingers have a knee jerk reaction to anything that touches on the Holy Female Reproductive Tract, many on my "side" have an equal and similar reaction to The White Men in White Coats Who Are Out To Get Us.

I think you'll find a lot of feminists against this pill (see above) - all in perfect ignorance of what the Pill actually does, of course.

It's about knowing the score, really. At one point, in university, I was on the Pill, and my doctor did not tell me what was really going on. Here's your pamphlet, here's your prescription, off you go. That's unacceptable, if you ask me.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Well, Valiantmauz, I'm not going to argue with you. It's your life; your body; to do with as you please.

I'm just hoping that Health Canada checks this out thoroughly before allowing it in Canada. As I mentioned earlier, we thought HRT was safe...

BTW, didn't your doctor catch on when you skipped the placebos each month?

valiantmauz said...

I was only on it for six months or so. This was the early 1990's, and it didn't occur to me to mess with the pills. I was just worried about taking the darn things on time, every day.

When this story broke, and I started seeing it everywhere, I did a little research, and asked my family doctor (different than the one who prescribed me the pill in the Pleistocene era) if what I was reading was true.

She said, that yes, it was - that certain existing birth control pills could be used continuously and that others - Seasonal for one - reduced bleeding to three or four times a year. (There was some talk of monophasic vs. triphasic pills - she lost me there). We discussed the possibility for me, but in the end, why mess with what's working fine? There are alternatives to get the PMS under control, and messy, expensive and inconvenient as it is, it's not that bad.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Valiantmauz, thank you. You've provided some good technical information to this discussion. I appreciate it.