New Birth Control Pill Approved

Reduces frequency of woman's periods

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MONDAY, Sept. 8, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- A woman's monthly cycle might be reduced to a quarterly event if she takes a birth control pill just approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The new pill, named Seasonale, promises to reduce the frequency of women's periods, from every month to four times a year.

Seasonale is a contraceptive, but its unique aspect is the reduction in the number of times a woman would have her period.

The pills don't contain any new chemicals. They have the same combination of estrogen and progestin already available in other birth control pills.

The key to Seasonale's effectiveness, the FDA says, is the how long the continuous use of the pills takes place before a week of placebos is used to allow a period to occur. The AP says women are instructed to take the pills for 12 straight weeks before taking a week's supply of dummy pills.

There are some cautions from the FDA. For instance, while women have fewer scheduled periods, Seasonale users have about twice the risk of unexpected bleeding between periods as woman taking monthly cycle pills.

Here is the FDA Talk Paper announcing the approval. For more about birth control, visit the National Library of Medicine.

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