Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Seasonale Proves the Earth Is Flat--Part I

By now I expect you've all heard the news. No, I'm not talking about the President's speech on Sunday, or about the 7 consecutive days in Iraq without any U.S. combat deaths. I am talking, of course, about the really important news: the FDA has approved Seasonale! And, please, no e-mail about how dare I mention the war in Iraq and Seasonale in the same paragraph--keep on reading, and you'll see that there is, indeed, a connection.

Seasonale, manufactured by Barr Laboratories, is the first drug on the market specifically packaged for use in menstrual management. In really (really) general terms: women can use Seasonale to cut down the number of yearly menstrual periods from 13 (once a month), to 4 (once every three months). Taking control of your period and deciding when to have a period, and how many periods to have = menstrual management.

But, just because this drug was approved, I didn't have to: 1) start a blog, 2) name it The Well-Timed Period, and 3) dedicate it to discussing menstrual management. No, what actually motivated me to do all this was stumbling upon an article, titled Seasonale: A Eugenicist's Dream while Googling, you guessed it, Seasonale. This article is number 4, out of about 7,580 results. For shame!

Most women, the media, and, unfortunately, quite a number of medical professionals, don't have accurate information about menstrual management as it is. For example, the September 5, 2003 AP news wire (picked up by most media outlets) announcing the approval of Seasonale, contains the following telling phrase:

"The big safety question is whether four periods a year are enough to allow the uterus to shed any tissue that builds up."

This is wrong--there is no tissue build up in the uterus while a woman uses hormonal birth control. The mistake stems from confusing the actual period with the fake one (medical term = withdrawal bleeding). A common mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. Add to this baseline confusion the medical fiction in an article like the eugenics one and you have a recipe for disaster.

Yes, I said disaster. Because, contrary to the patronizing and dismissive tone of the eugenics article, period-related problems are serious and can even kill. Since this is my first post ever, I won't go into the really depressing statistics. I'll just touch upon a few of the "minor" ones.

Just in the U.S.:

-- Period-related disorders "are the most common gynecological complaint, affecting nearly 2.5 million women aged 18 to 50. Two-thirds of these women contact a doctor regarding menstrual problems each year, and 31% report spending a mean of 9.6 days in bed annually."

-- Among women under the age of 25 painful periods (medical term for painful period = dysmenorrhea) are the most common cause of time lost from work or school.

-- The costs of period-related disorders to US industry have been estimated to be 8% of the total wage bill.

-- The impact is particularly acute in industries that employ predominantly women. For example, Texas Instruments noted a 25% decrease in productivity among female workers around the time of menses.

And if you think it's not so easy to be a soldier, on active duty, in the middle of the desert, in 130 degrees heat, think how "easy" it is to be a soldier, on active duty, in the middle of the desert, in 130 degrees heat, while having your period. [See, I told you there was a link between the war in Iraq and Seasonale.]

So, all this introduction (sorry, but I haven't yet achieved the Professor's succinctness), just to say that:

-- I found an article full of medical fiction

-- medical misinformation is dangerous

-- I started a blog to set the record straight and inform the public [Well, doesn't that sound official!]

Actually, I really wanted to use "administer a medical fisking" somewhere in the mission statement, but it just sounded too much like a, slightly unpleasant, minor outpatient medical procedure.

In any case, since I also can't claim anything resembling Mr. Den Beste's craftiness with long, but brilliantly informative posts, I'll end this entry here and dedicate my next post to the promised debunking of the eugenics article. Oh, and the fact that it took me over 4 hours to create this site and publish this entry has nothing, nothing I tell you, to do with my ending this post here.

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