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Pausing Menopause: Could New Pill Preserve a Woman's Prime?


Another pill now being tested by women around the country, called Seasonale, would also suppress ovulation. It would be taken for three months at a time, with one week off in between, and would cause women to have only four periods a year. If approved by the FDA, Seasonale should be on the drugstore shelves in two or three years.

Some fertility experts tell WebMD Gosden's goal is shared by many and is not likely to be easily achieved. "On a theoretic basis, this is what a lot of people have been interested in trying to do. This is something that everybody has thought about," says Rogerio Lobo, MD, chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University and Presbyterian Medical Center in New York.

Kirtly Parker Jones, MD, an associate professor of reproductive endocrinology at the University of Utah School of Medicine, calls it "an interesting idea without a shred of scientific evidence."

"The fundamental scientific questions about why [eggs die] is yet unknown -- so until we firmly understand that fundamental question, we cannot devise a medication to stop it -- and birth control pills as we currently know them certainly won't," Jones says.

She adds that women should think twice about delaying childbirth. "Polls have shown that women who had their kids before they started their careers are much happier than women who try to fit their kids in the middle or struggle to have kids near the end," she tells WebMD.

However, James Simon, MD, who is one of the physicians studying Seasonale, tells WebMD he would welcome such a development, provided the medication is safe and is able to maintain normal hormone levels.

"I don't know what the compound would be. Once the information is clearer we would have a better idea of whether the drug has long term side effects," says Simon, a clinical professor of medicine at George Washington University School of Medicine and medical director of the Women's Health Research Center in Laurel, Md.

Simon adds that there are benefits to long-term birth control use, which he has occasionally prescribed to help patients with chronic pelvic pain, PMS, and endometriosis, a painful condition in which tissue from the lining of the uterus migrates to other parts of the body.

"In 25 years of practice I have had women on extended doses of contraceptives," he says. "I have a couple [of patients] who have been on oral contraceptives for six to eight years, and they don't want to become pregnant, so we aren't [ever] taking them off."


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