Thursday, September 09, 2004

Not Your Mother's Birth Control Pill Placebo Interval

Mircette

For women using the combination birth control pill (the Pill), fewer placebo days can reduce side effects and increase pregnancy protection:


MONTREAL — Limiting the hormone-free portion of OC regimens can reduce side effects and may improve contraceptive effectiveness, according to two studies presented at the World Congress on Fertility and Sterility.


“For a lot of women, the hormone-free days are when they have their PMS, their pain, and their heavy bleeding. That's also when many women have their headaches, and sometimes that's when their acne flares. It's amazing that the 7-day hormone-free interval [HFI] has lasted this long,” said Dr. Patricia Sulak, a researcher, consultant, or speaker for Berlex Inc., Barr Laboratories Inc, and Wyeth, all of which market OCs.


In a separate presentation, Angela Baerwald, Ph.D., of the University of Saskatchewan reported evidence of follicular development, endometrial development, increased serum estradiol, and even ovulation during the HFI in women compliant on certain OC regimens.


“The loss of endocrine suppression during this interval provides the rationale for a reduction in the traditional 7-day hormone-free interval and/or the use of continuous hormonal contraception,” she said.


Most Pill brands have a 7 day placebo interval--an interval when no pills, or no hormone-containing pills are taken.

Contrary to popular belief, during this time your body doesn't take a "hormone break". Before the placebo week, your body's hormone levels are low, and more importantly, they're steady. And the same is true for the Pill hormones--steady levels. As soon as you withdraw the Pill hormones, during the placebo week, your body revs up its hormone production, and the levels start to fluctuate.

The problem is that these fluctuations can cause side effects like headaches, pain, or PMS. They can also allow an egg to start maturing inside the ovary (this increases the likelihood of an inadvertent pregnancy).

Minesse

Reducing the number of placebo days offers a solution to these problems. Two Pill brands, Minesse and Mircette, already have a shortened placebo interval built-in (4 days and 2 days, respectively).

Of course, you can shorten the hormone-free pill interval even if your Pill brand is a 7 placebo days one. You do this by starting a new pill pack sooner. For example, instead of waiting for 7 days between pill packs, or taking 7 placebo pills, you start the new pack after 3 or 4 days (or after taking only 3 or 4 placebo pills).

Bottom line: Because the duration of the placebo interval was arbitrarily selected (it's 7 days because of "designer" reasons, not medical or health ones), its length is not written in stone. You can adjust it--2, 3, 4, etc. days--to fit your unique needs.

Labels: , , , ,

3 Comments:

At 9:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You do this by starting a new pill pack sooner. For example, instead of waiting for 7 days between pill packs, or taking 7 placebo pills, you start the new pack after 3 or 4 days (or after taking only 3 or 4 placebo pills)"

Does this mean that your period will still come? And on time?

I wanted to know is there a way to intentionally skip a period with this pill? In other words, on my wedding night I dont want my period. How can I avoid it with this pill?

 
At 1:45 PM, Blogger ema said...

Does this mean that your period will still come? And on time?

Yes, but the bleeding will be lighter and will only last a couple of days.

I wanted to know is there a way to intentionally skip a period with this pill?

If you're referring to a regular pill brand, one with a 7-day placebo interval, all you have to do is skip the 7 placebo pills and go directly to a new pack. [Keep in mind that it's best to start this regimen--skipping the 7 placebo pills--about 3 months before the actual date you don't want to have bleeding on, like your wedding night.]

For a more detailed explanation, look at this post, Skip Period Regimens, under Yasmin (a monophasic pill brand with a 7 day placebo interval).

 
At 5:06 PM, Anonymous Ciara said...

I shortened my placebo week by taking the first pill of my new pack 4days early.
However the period i experienced was really different. Mostly brown discharge with only a little red blood.

Was this just a result of starting the pack earlier than usual?

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home