By City Guide News Desk

A New Era for Birth Control

  |  Women's Health  

Editor's Note: 'Big Apple Parent' first reported on the long-interval oral contraceptive regimen, Seasonale, while it was in the preliminary stages of development by the Pomona, N.Y.-based Barr Laboratories, Inc.

Just four periods a year. That's just another of the fringe benefits women will reap from the first and only extended-cycle oral contraceptive to prevent pregnancy, recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Seasonale, a 91-day regimen designed to reduce the number of periods to a mere four per year, became available by prescription to women last month. Taken daily as 84 active tablets, followed by 7 inactive tablets, Seasonale's safety profile is comparable to traditional oral contraceptives; the most adverse effects in clinical trials were nasopharyngitis (inflammation of the upper part of the throat behind the nose), headache and intermenstrual bleeding or spotting. “With today’s approval of Seasonale, women have a new choice when deciding on oral contraception,” says Carole S. Ben-Maimon, M.D., president and COO of Barr Research. “For those women who prefer the convenience of fewer periods, Seasonale offers a safe and effective alternative to the traditional 28-day oral contraceptive regimen.” A recently published Roper study found that when given the choice, nearly two-thirds of women would be interested in reducing their number of periods to four times per year. Although birth control pills were originally developed to include a monthly menstrual period so they would seem more "natural", there is no real reason for it, experts say. In fact, throughout history, most women didn't menstruate as regularly as women do today. Serious risks associated with birth control pills include blood clots, stroke and heart attack. As with other traditional oral contraceptives, these risks increase in women who smoke cigarettes, especially women over 35. For more information, call 1-800-719-3687 or visit