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The Queen Of All Contraceptives Released

A few months back, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new birth control pill, Lybrel. It is as effective at preventing pregnancy as the other pills already in the market , but overrides them with one advantage: Women who take it will never get their periods.

Lybrel is landing on pharmacy shelves this month. Now menstruation may never be the same- it may disappear altogether.

Already the first few volleys in this battle have been exchanged, a barrage of advertising and research highlighting the debilitating effects of periods and the joys of menstrual suppression.

Women libbers may argue- periods and their mood swings are bad for family values (cranky mothers), bad for womens health, bad for the fashion industry and bad for the economy (leave taken on grounds of period pain).

In a presentation by Lybrels maker, Wyeth, to investors and analysts last October, Dr. Ginger D. Constantine, the companys therapeutic director for womens health, laid the groundwork. Citing company-backed studies, she reported that menstruating women feel less effective at work and take more sick days. Not only that, but they dont exercise and they wear dark clothes more often, she said.

Suddenly, news articles are weighing the pros and cons of the monthly cycles. Yet, history shows that such debates are, well, cyclical. In the 1870s and 1880s, when Americans were debating the value of higher education for women, a flurry of research asserted that womens cycling constitutions made them unfit for sustained mental and physical labor.

Henry Maudsley, a British doctor, reflected popular opinion when he observed that menstruation doomed girls to failure in college. Comparing boys and girls, Maudsley insisted in an article, was not a question of two bodies and minds that are in equal physical condition, but of one body and mind capable of sustained and regular hard labor, and of another body and mind which one quarter
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