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How to Safely End Your Menstrual Period, Cramps and PMS With a Birth Control Pill

Cheryl’s Story

This is a true story about a woman who endured 20 years of terrible menstrual periods. She had painful cramps, PMS symptoms like mood swings, anxiety, and the resulting disruption they caused in her life.

This story is also about the various treatments she tried and how she discovered a new birth control pill called Lybrel that suspends menstrual periods indefinitely.

(Women readers: Cheryl’s story might seem familiar if you have ever suffered from severe PMS or cramps and wished there was a way to get rid of them. Men: pass this article on to the women in your life – girlfriend, wife, daughters – they all need to know.)

Cheryl’s Story

From the day of her first menstrual period at age 13, Cheryl experienced debilitating cramps with every monthly cycle. The first 3 or 4 days of her period would see her doubled over in bed, unable to sleep, eat or even move. She stopped swimming, quit the gymnastics team and started getting poorer grades because she missed so many classes.

Her family doctor prescribed Midol. When that didn’t work, the strongest medication he could offer was ibuprofen / Advil. But the sheer amount of the drug Cheryl had to take just to control her pain eventually began irritating her gastro-intestinal system. Her mother feared she would get an ulcer, but there didn’t seem to be any other choice.

By 17, Cheryl was dating and had met a wonderful guy that her family and friends all loved. Imagine the luck… her first serious boyfriend and it looked like he was a keeper! Cheryl had never been so happy.

She went on the birth control pill and was hoping some of the positive side effects she’d been told about, like less painful cramps, would result. But the cramps arrived on schedule with her periods. And her emotions went on a wild roller coaster ride that she didn’t understand.

Naming The Culprit: PMS

Cheryl’s moods were unpredictable: one day up, the next down. One moment happy, the next in tears. Her boyfriend was patient but after a few years, the relationship broke down because of her unexplained mood swings. Cheryl was destroyed.

When she was in her 20s, Cheryl learned about PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a more severe form of PMS). She learned that hormonal changes before a woman’s period can lead to mood instability, which explained her crazy emotional swings. At least now she knew that PMS was the culprit that had wreaked havoc with her life ever since puberty.

Then her friend’s older sister told her about Depo Provera.

"It’s incredible, Cher… one injection every 3 months and you get not only birth control just as good as the pill but most girls’ periods stop completely. I haven’t had one in 18 months," she raved. "And without a period, you don’t get PMS!"

So Cheryl went back to the doctor and got her first Depo shot. As her periods stopped, so did the cramps and her emotional ups and downs. She was elated. Until she started gaining weight. And started feeling depressed for no reason.

After two years on Depo Provera, she was diagnosed with depression, possibly triggered or aggravated by the Depo (a fairly common side effect). She stopped the injections and returned to her painful, unhappy periods.

And that’s when the nurse at the Women’s Clinic dropped a bombshell on her.

"Cheryl", the nurse said, "your cramps and PMS are so severe, they seem to be controlling your life. Did you know that women like you don’t have to go through this every month? That there’s a way to limit the number of periods you have… or you can stop them completely, without Depo Provera injections?"

Cheryl was floored. "No! Tell me more!"

The nurse told her about Lybrel, a new type of birth control pill. Lybrel actually stops women’s menstrual periods completely. It’s especially helpful for women like Cheryl whose PMS is severe and whose menstrual periods are painful, irregular or difficult. Plus the nurse said Lybrel works just as well as traditional birth control pills to prevent pregnancy.

How Lybrel Works

Lybrel contains the hormones ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel, common ingredients in other birth control pills. Only instead of taking 21 pills and stopping for 7 days to have a period, as you would with regular birth control pills, you take Lybrel every day without a break, meaning most women don’t get a period at all or just experience minor spotting or breakthrough bleeding.

"But if it’s just a glorified birth control pill, how come nobody told me about it before?" Cheryl asked. "I’ve been suffering for 20 years and now I find out it’s as simple as tweaking my hormone levels???"

In fact, women in the know have been controlling or ending their menstrual periods with birth control pills for many years. Doctors who are familiar with the method have been advising them on how to do it.

But there is still a misconception in some circles that having a period each month is necessary, and that skipping your period is somehow wrong or unhealthy. (Read this article to learn the facts about menstrual suppression.)

The nurse gave Cheryl three different contraceptive options as treatment for her PMS, cramps, and unpleasant menstrual periods:

Yasmin: (aka Yaz) Yasmin is a 21-day on, 7-day off birth control pill. It’s the first birth control pill approved to treat the physical and emotional symptoms of PMDD. Yasmin, in most women, results in shorter, lighter periods (3 days or less), reduced cramps and a more regular cycle — great advantages for women like Cheryl who suffer from heavy, painful menstrual periods. 

Lybrel: The newest birth control pill on the market (approved by the FDA in May 2007), Lybrel is also the first birth control pill meant for continuous use, although other birth control pills have been prescribed off-label to be used this way. In one test, nearly 60% of the women taking Lybrel had no bleeding or spotting at all by the 12th month of taking it. 

Now… Your Period

If you’re thinking about taking Lybrel yourself, here are some trusted resources to provide more detailed information about Lybrel:

 

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