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Last Updated: Monday, 8 December, 2003, 11:26 GMT
'Four-season' Pill to be launched
The regime could be more convenient for some women
A contraceptive pill that cuts the number of periods to four a year has been approved for use in the US.

Seasonale involves taking the Pill for 84 days in a row, then not taking it for a week.

Many women already safely combine courses of pills short-term to avoid periods during important events, such as family holidays or exams.

It contains the same hormones in similar doses to the conventional Pill.

The most popular standard Pill regime involves taking a combination of the hormones oestrogen and progestogen for 21 days, then stopping for seven days, when a menstrual bleed will take place.

It will enable some women who have a problem with their periods to manage their lives better. It's not a 'lifestyle drug'
Spokesman, FPA
Some women practice "tri-cycling", in which the contents of three "cycles" of pills are taken consecutively with no breaks over 63 days before stopping for a week.

This new product effectively "legitimises" this process.

Some women take contraceptives because they find periods painful or disruptive, and Seasonale could appeal to them.

Manufacturers Barr Laboratories say they intend to apply for a licence in the UK next year, and say that the advantage of their product is convenience.


A spokesman for the FPA, which advises women on contraception, said that the lower number of short breaks from taking the Pill could mean that fewer women forget to resume taking it at the right time, cutting the risk of unwanted pregancy.

She said: "It will enable some women who have a problem with their periods to manage their lives better. It's not a 'lifestyle drug'.

"We welcome Seasonale as a another contraceptive choice for women."

Taking the Pill does slightly raise the risk of blood clots, but she said that this brand was no worse than any other.

The doses of hormones were similar, she said.

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