Ask Dr. Sally: What Can I Take For Painful Periods?

We received another great question and here’s our response…

I have fibroids in my uterus and they make my periods really painful.  I’m looking for something I can take for relief from the pain and I prefer natural therapies. What do you recommend?

(photo credit: TipsTimes via Flickr)

Many women suffer from painful periods.  There could be different reasons for painful periods and fibroids are a common cause.  Fibroids are benign tumors that grow in the walls of the uterus.  As a result, women with fibroids may have heavier and more painful periods.  They may also feel bloated, have lower back pain, have pain with defacation, or feel the urge to urinate.  If there are no symptoms, there is no need to treat and the fibroids will shrink on their own over time, especially after menopause when the body stops producing estrogen. If there are bothersome symptoms, then these are the treatment options that can be considered first:

  • The birth control pill.  The combination birth control pills (estrogen plus progestin hormones) work really well to have lighter and more predictable periods.  The birth control pills can also be used to suppress the period altogether.  In fact, the bleeding that women experience when they are on the birth control pill is not a natural period.  It is actually the body’s response to withdrawing from the hormones in the birth control pills during the hormone-free or placebo pills.  There is no medical or health benefit to this withdrawal bleeding and it’s safe to skip it, though some women like the reassurance of a monthly period.  If interested in skipping periods, the same pills can be taken on an extended cycle to reduce the frequency of periods to once every few months or they can be taken on a continuous cycle to skip periods for as long as desired.  Using birth control pills to reduce pain from fibroids has the added benefit of preventing pregnancy in women who are looking for that.  The birth control ring and patch work the same way as the pill.
  • Mirena intrauterine device.  This device is placed in the uterus and releases a progestin hormone for 5 years.  It helps women have lighter and less painful periods.  Up to 20% of women with a Mirena will stop having periods altogether.
  • Ibuprofen. This is the most popular medication from a class known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (or NSAIDs for short). Another option is naproxen. These medications help reduce cramping and heavy bleeding. Most women have one of these in their medicine cabinet, so it is readily accessible if needed. Ibuprofen can be taken in high doses several times a day for the first few days of menses. There are risks with taking these medications, so please consult with your healthcare provider before taking ibuprofen or another NSAID regularly. Aspirin should not be used for this purpose and can actually increase blood loss.
  • Lysteda.  This is the brand name for tranexamic acid and prevents blood loss.  It is an oral medication taken 3 times a day for up to 5 days at the beginning of menses.  Fewer doses are needed in women who have kidney problems.
  • The birth control shot. Also known as Depo-Provera.  The progestin helps counteract the estrogen and may help the fibroids shrink.  Prevents pregnancy too.
  • Oral progestin.  If a woman cannot take estrogen because of a medical contraindication, then a high-dose progestin is still an option.  Options include medroxyprogesterone and norethindrone taken on a daily basis.

If there are still bothersome symptoms after trying those medications, then these are the more aggressive treatments to consider:

  • Lupron or Zoladex.  These medications actually help shrink the fibroids that are causing the problems.  They are injections and work by reducing estrogen production.  For this reason, they can cause side effects that mimic menopause.  They are generally only used for a few months before surgery due to cost and side effects.
  • Surgery.  The fibroids can be surgically removed (myomectomy) or the entire uterus can be surgically removed (hysterectomy).  As with all other treatment options, it will be important to weigh the risks of these surgeries against the benefits.
  • Non-surgical procedures.  These procedures are an alternative to surgery.  Options are blocking uterine arterines (uterine artery embolization), removing the endometrial lining (endometrial ablation or hysteroscopic resection).

For those who prefer natural approaches to managing the discomfort, you’ll be happy to hear there are options for you.  Natural remedies may not be as effective for painful periods caused by fibroids.  Especially if the heavy periods are causing other health problems like anemia or infertility, which would have their own treatment options.  Some of the natural remedies that may generally help with menstrual cramps and pain include:

  • Heat pad.  The heat and pressure applied with a heat pad are very comforting.  Check out our handmade TheraPillow with natural contents.
  • Hot bath.  Again heat helps.
  • Magnesium.  This is essentially a salt that helps relax muscles.  You can take tablets, drink it, or soak in it.  Check out our handmade Soothing Salt satchels that can be placed in a bath.
  • Exercise.  Gets the blood flowing and brings oxygen to the muscles in your uterus to help provide some relief.  Yoga may be a good option.
  • Massage.  When doesn’t a massage help?
  • Acupuncture.  Not a lot of science behind this one either but it’s low-risk and may help.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables.  Women who eat a few servings of fruit and vegetables a day have lower rates of fibroids than women who eat one or no servings.  This finding is just an association and we can’t make any conclusions about causation.
  • Plants.  Maca root is used for many sexual and reproductive health issues, including menstrual cramps.
  • Avoid soy.  Soy products, like tofu, have phytoestrogens in them.  These compounds act like weak estrogens in the body and can theoretically contribute to fibroid growth and cramps.

I hope this information is a good start.  I’m always happy to discuss any of these treatment options further and help you make a decision.

Got a question? Send it to us.

— Dr. Sally Rafie

Pill Supply…The Pharmacy is On Your Side

Birth control pills are the most popular form of hormonal birth control and one of the most popular forms among all birth control methods.Birth Control Pill Supply Choose Control Sally Rafie

What’s the problem?

One of the biggest barriers to using birth control pills correctly and consistently is the lack of supply. Many women find themselves out of birth control pills when they go to take their next pill.  And because birth control pills currently require a prescription from a doctor or clinic, this could lead to delays.  Catastrophic delays.  Missing a couple birth control pills is very different than missing a couple of cholesterol pills.  It could mean pregnancy.  Especially because the first few pills in each pack are the most important to take on time to be sure ovulation is prevented (and no egg is released).  So that explains the problem.

What’s the solution? 

Giving women larger supplies of their birth control pills!  This mean less trips to the pharmacy, fewer missed pills, and fewer unplanned pregnancies.  It’s all very logical.  The hang up?  Health insurance plans don’t want to pay for larger supplies up front.  From their perspective, you may be a customer this month, but may not be a few months from now.  More and more plans are restricting the supply that can be dispensed at the pharmacy.  So even if your prescription is written for a 3-month supply at a time, the pharmacy may only be able to give you 1 pack for no/low co-pay.  Of course, women can choose to ditch the reimbursement from their health insurance plan and pay cash for multiple packs at once, but few will choose to do that and they certainly shouldn’t have to.

What does the research tell us?

All the research supports larger supplies.  It helps women stick to their birth control method and we know that’s what it takes to prevent unplanned pregnancies.  A systematic review of four research studies found that prescribing and dispensing more pill packs led to a handful of benefits:

  1. Increased birth control method continuation
  2. Fewer pregnancy tests
  3. Fewer pregnancies
  4. Fewer abortions
  5. Lower cost per patient

The only downside?  Some pill packs were wasted.  The wastage was a result of some women who stopped using birth control pills before they ran out of supplies.  But that was a small price to pay to reap all the other rewards.  There was an overall financial savings to providing more pill packs.

How do we get women the supplies they need?

Oregon lawmakers are proposing a new bill that would require health plans to allow up to a 12-month supply of birth control pills to be dispensed at once.  If you’re in the area and want to get involved, you can participate in a local lobby day on March 25th.  Hopefully this Comprehensive Women’s Health Bill passes and serves as a precendent for other states. For now, it is up to each health insurance plan to determine how many packs they will allow women to receive at a once.

Women always have the option to self-pay to get around plan restrictions.  Some pharmacies offer auto-refill programs to help patients stay on track with their medications, so ask if your pharmacy offers this.

What Your Organ Transplant Means for Your Fertility

For women undergoing an organ transplant, you’ve got a lot on your mind and birth control probably isn’t high on your list.

I recently did a study with Drs. Sally Rafie, PharmD, BCPS and Sheila Mody, MD, MPH to find out more about the education women get about birth control and which methods they are using after their transplants. This study was just published in December in the Progress in Transplantation journal. Here’s what you need to know.

Transplant Contraception Birth Control Choose Control Sophia Lai Sally Rafie

Why use birth control after a transplant?

There are three major reasons to be on birth control after an organ transplant.

  1. The transplant restores a woman’s fertility. While fertility may have been impaired before the transplant because of severe disease, it returns quickly. So women are at risk of an unplanned pregnancy if they don’t use an effective form of birth control.
  2. Getting pregnant may cause serious damage to a transplanted organ. Pregnancy is a big deal for a woman’s body and even more so for women with certain conditions, such as an organ transplant. Women with a transplanted kidney who become pregnant may cause serious damage to their kidney. Generally, it is recommended that women wait 1-2 years after their transplant surgery to become pregnant. In some cases, this can be done safely after 6 months. This is a decision that is made best upon consultation with a transplant provider.
  3. Transplant medications can cause birth defects. After an organ transplant, many medications have to be taken to keep the immune system at bay so the body doesn’t reject the organ. Some of these medications, called immunosuppressants, can increase the risk of birth defects.

Since one out of every three women who gets a transplant is of reproductive age, we wanted to find out what information they get about birth control and which methods they use.

What were the key findings?

Just to get an idea of the “average” patient we were looking at, the average age was 34 years old and the average time after transplant was 9 months.

  1. Most patients received counseling on condoms, birth control pills, and intrauterine devices (IUDs). Patients were counseled by their transplant team, which includes a transplant doctor, transplant nurse, and transplant pharmacist. However, nearly half of the patients wanted to be counseled by an Ob/Gyn doctor, who specializes in female reproductive organs.
  2. Women are not using highly effective birth control methods after their transplants.  Most women are just using condoms for birth control, which are not as effective as other methods and not reliable enough for women following an organ transplant.

What should you do about birth control and pregnancy planning if you have had a transplant?

You have the right to be informed about all your birth control options. Talk to your primary care doctor or transplant provider (doctor, nurse, or pharmacist) about your plans.

If you would like to become pregnant, your transplant provider will need to be involved in planning for changes to your health and may want to consult an Ob/Gyn doctor. If you do not want to become pregnant, ask your transplant provider to refer you to an Ob/Gyn doctor or other family planning specialist so you can find out your birth control options. You can even start these conversations before your transplant.

About the Author:  Sophia LSophia Lai Choose Control Transplant Birth Control Contraception Studyai is a fourth-year pharmacy student at the University of California San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences. Upon graduating in 2015, Sophia plans to pursue additional training in a pharmacy practice residency program.

(Photo above of doctors with patient from Seattle Municipal Archives via Flickr)

Will Men Be Receptive to a Natural Male Contraceptive?

Finding an effective method of birth control for men may be as simple as looking towards nature. A tropical plant that has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy may have a role in male contraception.

Choose Control - Birth Control Contraception for Men Gendarussa

What is it?

Gendarussa leaves have been brewed and drank as a remedy for stress.  People started noticing an unexpected side effect: reduced male fertility.

For the past few years, researchers from Indonesia have closely studied the gendarussa plant and its medicinal properties. The plant contains a natural chemical that disrupts the enzyme on sperm that is needed to perforate the wall of the egg.  So the chemical essentially prevents the sperm from being able to enter the egg…and thus prevents pregnancy. 

Does it work?

Researchers have been able to extract the chemical from the plant and put it in pills. These pills are now being tested in human subjects as a form of contraception. The results from the Indonesian studies are encouraging. Dr. Bambang Prajogo, a pharmacy professor at Airlangga University, leads research on the development of this potential new form of male birth control and has publicly stated that the pills are “99% effective” based on his trials.

What makes the gendarussa-based birth control pill even more promising is that the side effects seem minimal. It’s not a hormone either. In addition, the effect of the drug is reversible; men can regain fertility within several weeks after discontinuing the pill.

When will it be available?

The gendarussa birth control pill is expected to be on the market in Indonesia by 2016.  It will probably be an even longer wait before we can set our sights on this drug in the United States. Nevertheless, the gendarussa pill signifies one of several new birth control methods being developed that are geared towards providing men with more contraceptive options.  

What can men use now?

In the meantime, men should know about their current birth control options, including all the different types of condoms.

Would men be receptive to a male contraceptive?

There have been surveys showing a minority of men would use a hormonal birth control method if it were available.  I’m curious whether not only men, but also women, will be receptive to birth control for me.

Tell us in the comments below…

  • Would you be receptive to a natural male contraceptive?  
  • Does this sound more or less appealing than a hormonal method? 
  • Would you rely on this method or use with another method?      

About the Author:  Kevin Vu is a third-year pharmacy student at the University of California San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences.

(Photo credit: Solly Markovitch via Flickr NOT of a Gendarussa plant. Justicia gendarussa actually looks like this.)

Birth Control in 2014: The Goodies and The Bullies

Reflecting back on what happened with birth control in the last 12 months, there were many goodies worth celebrating…hooray! Unfortunately, there were some big time birth control bullies too…boo! Here’s a quick reflection on the most notable of each.

Birth Control in 2014 Goodies Bullies Choose ControlGoodies

1. More women using highly effective methods. We saw a big jump in the use of highly effective methods of birth control, also known as long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC). Among women using birth control, only 2% were using LARC in 2002 but that’s up to nearly 12% in 2011-2013. Both teens and adult women alike are now choosing these methods over other options more than ever before. Most women still use the pill, which is very effective if taken correctly and consistently, followed by condoms. LARC comes in at 3rd favorite. We are all on the edge of our seats to see if this leads to fewer unplanned pregnancies and abortions.

2. Generic versions of Plan B One Step approved. The FDA approved several generic versions of Plan B One-Step. This means more options when it comes to emergency contraception. The brand Plan B One-Step product is still on the shelf, so now women can choose between spending $50 on that or go with one of the less expensive generic products ($40 for My Way, Levonorgestrel, Take Action, or Next Choice). The least expensive product (AfterPill) is available online for $25 a dose. This is a great option for anyone who wants to keep a dose at home in case it’s needed later.

3. Birth control being developed for men. Men have been limited to vasectomies and condoms for pretty much ever. That list may grow much longer to include pills, gels, injections, and even implants in the future. Indonesia is studying a natural compound as a birth control pill for men. While no new methods hit the market in 2014, we’ve got lots of great options in the works. In the meantime, an elastic prophylactic (better known as a condom) will have to do for most.

4. Californians can get birth control at the pharmacy without a prescription. California approved a law that expands pharmacists’ scope of practice to include providing some birth control methods directly to patients without a prescription. That means women in California will be able to get the pill, patch, ring, and depot injection at their local pharmacy soon. The protocol is being finalized now and this new service should be available in the next few months. This is a BIG DEAL! California will be the first state with this expanded access, which is the closest to over-the-counter. More to come on this when we get closer to this being a reality.

5. More support for over-the-counter access to the pill. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists just released an expert opinion on access to birth control reinforcing their statement of support for over-the-counter birth control. Many other professional associations and advocacy organizations are behind this expanded access too. Want to know more about over-the-counter birth control? Check out the Free the Pill websiteTwitter, or Facebook page.

6. Improving consumer and healthcare provider knowledge of emergency contraception. Senator Murray along with her consponsors introduced the Emergency Contraception Access and Education Act of 2014. If passed, two things would happen: First, hospitals* would be required to give sexual assault victims medically accurate information about emergency contraception and promptly offer emergency contraception regardless of the victim’s ability to pay for this service. Second, there would be educational programs about emergency contraception directed at both the public and healthcare providers. Ask your senators to support this bill. *This would be required of hospitals receiving federal funds.

There have been lots of efforts to increase awareness about emergency contraception methods and availability. I helped create a guide to access to emergency contraception for pharmacists and other pharmacy staff members. has awesome resources like this chart comparing methods of emergency contraception.


1. Corporations can have religious beliefs. And impose those beliefs to restrict the health care options of their employees. But only when it comes to birth control and abortions. This doesn’t make any sense but the Supreme Court of the United States made it so. Tens of other companies are now following in Hobby Lobby footsteps to fight the birth control benefit of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This GIFs-planation explains how we went from celebrating the birth control benefit — a major goodie — to being bullied by “religious corporations.”

2. Republicans support over-the-counter birth control for the wrong reasons. Their reason: so it’s no longer covered by insurance. But birth control will need to be covered by insurance to be sure there’s access. Since the Affordable Care Act benefit kicked in, we’ve already seen a shift in women using more effective methods that were cost-prohibitive before (see goodie #1). Over-the-counter birth control would make it much more convenient for women (see goodie #5) but insurance coverage means ALL women can benefit. Dr. Dan Grossman, MD, MPH explains the issues in this LA Times Op-Ed.

3. Counterfeit birth control. Untrustworthy retailers began selling emergency contraception on this year. The unbelievably low price was the first red flag. We don’t know whether these products were counterfeit, stolen, or illegitimate for some other reason. But we can’t trust them either. RH Reality Check published a great article warning buyers to beware. The FDA also has posted information on the dangers of buying medications online and warning consumers to be wary. As if there aren’t enough barriers to birth control without adding this to the list.

I’m glad to see there are more goodies in my list than bullies. I’m optimistic about what 2015 will bring and hope you’ll join me by using your voices and votes to promote progress.

Birth Control for Women with Diabetes

Since November is National Diabetes Month, it’s the perfect time to review birth control options for women with diabetes.  The CDC estimates there are 29 million Americans living with diabetes, including 8 million who have it and don’t know it.  While prevention, screening, and managing diabetes are extremely important for one’s health, it is also important to consider how this impacts other health goals and medications, such as family planning and birth control.

So which birth control methods can be used safely by women who have diabetes?  I hate to say this, but it depends.  Luckily, it only depends on whether you’ve diabetes for over 20 years or have complications of diabetes, such as damage to the kidneys, eyes, nerves, or other vascular diseases.  If you’ve had diabetes for over 20 years or have complications of diabetes, you should not use the birth control injection (“depo”) or the combination hormonal methods such as the combination pill, patch, or ring.  It is still safe to use the progestin-only pill, hormonal implant, or IUDs.

The good news is the prevalence of diabetes among reproductive-aged women is low (3% diagnosed, 0.5% undiagnosed).  Most women who have longstanding or complicated diabetes with changes to kidneys, eyes, nerves, or other vascular changes have already been diagnosed and are well aware of it.  For this reason, your provider does not need to check your blood sugar (called glucose) when screening for birth control use.  Your provider may ask you whether you have diabetes.  If you have diabetes, help answer your provider’s questions about it to help your provider determine which methods of birth control are safe for you.

Hormonal birth control can have an effect on blood sugar in women with or without diabetes, but the effect is minimal.  So there’s no need to screen for diabetes or monitor your blood sugar when using birth control.  To be clear, you should get screened and monitor as recommended for general health and wellness, but there are no additional screenings because you are on birth control.

Since a woman with diabetes can have complications if she gets pregnant, it is important to plan the pregnancy and get prenatal care.  See the American Diabetes Association’s advice for pregnancy.  Even women who do not have diabetes are at risk of developing diabetes during their pregnancy, known as gestational diabetes.

Discussing family planning goals with your health care providers is very important, especially for women who have diabetes.

Thanks, Birth Control

#ThxBirthControl Sally Rafie Choose Control croppedThe availability of birth control has played a direct and powerful role in countless aspects of all of our lives.  For all of these reasons and more, today is the day that we hope you will join The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Bedsider, and me in saying, “Thanks, Birth Control.”

  1. Thanks for fewer unplanned pregnancies (women using birth control carefully and consistently account for only 5% of all unplanned pregnancies).
  2. Thanks for giving us the freedom to plan a family on our own terms.
  3. Thanks for more economic opportunities for young women and men.
  4. Thanks for greater educational attainment.
  5. Thanks for improved maternal health.
  6. Thanks for being so amazingly awesome that it is used by 99% of women who have had sex.
  7. Thanks for helping build stronger families.
  8. Thanks for being one of the nation’s top 10 greatest public health achievements of the last 100 years, according to the CDC.
  9. Thanks for reduced public spending.
  10. Thanks for fewer abortions.
  11. Thanks for reminding us of something that has great bi-partisan support.
  12. Thanks for building stronger relationships.
  13. Thanks for fewer health disparities.
  14. Thanks for less child poverty.
  15. Thanks for helping countless individuals better plan for their future and realize their dreams.
  16. Thanks for fewer low birth weight babies.
  17. Thanks for being so darn cost effective (public funding for contraception saves nearly $6 in medical costs for every $1 spend on contraceptive services).
  18. Thanks for saving countless panties and other clothing items from being stained by unregulated periods.
  19. Thanks for helping women manage heavy and/or painful periods (and the resulting lost days from work, costs for feminine products, and treatment costs).
  20. Thanks for treating acne.
  21. Thanks for preventing cancer.
  22. Thanks for coming in lots of different forms to choose from.
  23. Thanks for helping women skip pesky periods.
  24. Thanks for treating prementrual syndrome and premenstrual disphoric disorder.
  25. Thanks for letting women and men choose control of whether/when they want to have children.

Why are YOU thankful for birth control?  Tweet (#ThxBirthControl), post something on Facebook, share one of Bedsider’s clever digital postcards, or add a comment here.  Need some ideas?  The National Campaign has plenty.

Thank you and thanks birth control.

Ask Dr. Sally: Forgot to Take My Pill

We welcome questions from readers.  Here’s a question we got this week and our response…

I take my pill like clockwork around 7 am when I get ready. Today I stayed in sweats and just remembered to take it now!  What should I do now?

Late Birth Control Pill(photo credit: Evan via Flickr)

This happens all too frequently, so do not panic!  Before answering this question, it’s important to clarify that you are taking a combined birth control pill.  Another important piece of information is that you realized you missed your morning pill in the early afternoon, so it is only a few hours late.

If a pill is late (it has been less than 24 hours since the last dose was due), the late pill can be taken right away and the daily regimen continued afterwards.  So go ahead and take your late pill now.  You will then continue taking the rest of your pills at the regular time.  In your case this means take the late pill today (a few hours late) and the next pill tomorrow morning.  In other cases, it may mean taking the late pill and the next pill in the same day.  For example, if a woman usually takes her pill every night before bed but forgets a pill and remembers the following morning, she can take the late pill in the morning and the next pill at the usual time at night.

Being a few hours late will not affect the effectiveness of your birth control.  So you don’t need emergency contraception (also known as the morning-after pill) unless you missed other pills recently.  A pill is considered missed if it has been more than 24 hours since it should have been taken.  You could consider taking emergency contraception IF you had missed active pills (pills with hormones) either in the last week of your last pill pack or earlier in this pill pack.  You don’t need to use another form of birth control either since your birth control pills should prevent pregnancy.

I hope this information alleviates your concerns.  It sounds like you’re generally able to stick to your schedule.  If that changes, you can either change your regular pill schedule to a different time of day or think about changing to an easier method.

The Underground Birth of Birth Control

Practices to prevent pregnancy are ancient history.  But it was exactly a century ago when the term birth control was born in New York City.

Margaret SangerIn 1914, a woman by the name of Margaret Sanger began a feminist publication.  In the very first issue, Sanger made it known that an aim of the paper would be “to advocate the prevention of conception and impart such knowledge on the columns of this paper.”  This was a brave move since, at the time, it was in violation of the Comstock Act (banning the circulation of obscene material, including information regarding contraception) that could have landed her in jail.

Sanger was looking for a distinctive name to describe this concept of voluntary parenthood that also conveyed both the social and personal significance of it.  Sanger and her supporters had a brainstorming session.  After reviewing terms that existed in the medical literature and toying with new ones, the group had a short list:

  • Conception control
  • Pregnancy prevention
  • Regulation of reproduction
  • Prevenception
  • Contraception
  • Family control
  • Family limitation
  • Birth-rate control

Then, Sanger and Robert Parker thought of the term birth control and it was finalized.  Archivist Peter Engelman has studied Sanger’s work extensively:

The group unanimously accepted those simple and assertive words — maybe the most controversial phrase in the English language since Darwin introduced natural selection in 1859.  …

The coining of the term birth control and its emergence in print set into motion a series of free speech battles that launched the American birth control movement. …

Is there any other social movement that has so fundamentally altered women’s roles or affected, in one way or another, all of our lives?

The organization that Sanger created dropped the term birth control for planned parenthood in 1942 since it was more family-friendly. But birth control remains in wide use to this day. If we dissect the term birth control, it is not the most accurate description of the practices to prevent pregnancy. The goal of our current contraceptive methods is to prevent pregnancy, rather than prevent birth as the term birth control suggests.

What do YOU think of the term?  What term do YOU use or suggest using?

Reference: Engelman P. A History of the Birth Control Movement in America. Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2011. (Photo credit: roberthuffstutter via Flick)

Musings on Birth Control Names and Packaging

Leena, Cryselle, and Loryna… Ever notice how the names for your birth control pills are very different from all your other medications? Even the packaging is distinct and unlike any others. There’s no argument that it’s a lot easier to request a refill of your Yaz or Gianvi than to ask for drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol (the true generic medication names).

What do you think about the names…easy to remember or just silly? How about the packaging…does it help you keep track of pills?

Birth Control Packaging Gianvi Yaz


Prosperous Not for Profit

A little while ago I was talking with a friend and realized that among Yasmin, Ella, Lola, Chaya, Jadelle, Yaz, I wasn’t sure if I was speaking about my other female friends or various types of birth control.

For the sake of this not turning into a bad observational humor piece, I realize that a majority of birth control products do have very non-human names and potentially are very hard to differentiate (Ortho-cyclen vs. Tri-cyclen for example).

But how many condoms or even erectile dysfunction drugs are have male-sounding names? Would you ever see a condom called Fred? Chad? or even the perfect condom brand, Dick?

I’m very curious about the reasoning behind these advertising and packaging choices. I’m lucky (or unlucky) enough to not yet have a birth control or women’s health medicine named after me, even though I have a very common white name.

Is there a reason…

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