When I was a kid, and for a few years after that, the food company Del Monte ran adds which featured the tag line "It's not nice to mess with Mother Nature." Needless to say that was meant to assure consumers the product was as near fresh-picked as could be possible for something bought in a can.
It's just a pity that same catchy slogan can't be stapled to the foreheads of people in the employ of pharmaceutical companies. They seem intent on seeing how far they can push the human body away from the natural order of things. This is especially true in the case of women's menstrual cycles.
The latest attempt comes from the pharmaceutical giant Wyeth and their new birth control pill Anya which would completely eliminate a woman's menstrual cycle. Unlike previous versions of the pill that had a seven-day off period that allowed for a woman's period, Anya would be taken every day for the course of the cycle, preventing menstruation.
Instead of releasing the traditional almost 50mg of estrogen a pill, Anya would release 25mg, but over a longer time, thus preventing the menstrual cycle without increasing the amount of estragon being taken by the patient. Currently the only drug on the market that is available for women that will stop their period is Depo Provera a three-month hormone shot.
Initial informal polls done at the Museum of Menstruation in Maryland showed that four out of five women who visited liked the idea of not ever having to have a period again. Fifty percent of the women polled in the medical magazine, Contraception, also shared that opinion. (The Menstruation Museum closed its doors in 1999 and exists online only. This poll was conducted online as a request for letters in response to the question, "Would you stop menstruating if you could?" The only references to Contraception I was able to find online were either offers for magazine subscriptions – over $200.00 per year – and references to articles being published in the magazine.)
Naturally there is some debate among the medical and research profession as to the value and dangers of this product. According to Dr. Robert Reid, a professor of obstetrics and genecology at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario there is no more risk in taking Anya than in taking regular birth control pills. If you're a smoker it will increase your chances of stroke and heart attack, for example.
He also sees nothing wrong with a woman not having a monthly menstrual flow and said in Saturday June 24th's Globe and Mail that a woman's period actually might increase her chances of infection each month, saying "there's no evidence that you're getting rid of toxins in your body."