It may not surprise you to hear that earlier last week, Bayer Pharmaceuticals announced the release of their much anticipated and novel combined oral contraceptive pill, Natazia. With a name that sounds more like a Disney princess than a hormone-controlling drug, don't be surprised if the first image that comes to your mind is that of three or four fit and tanned 20-somethings water dancing in a pool or frolicking through a flowered meadow. Like breakthroughs in the tampon industry, birth control advances make us want to rejoice, do cartwheels on the beach, and paint pretty pictures with bright colors on large art canvases, right? That's what the commercials would have you believe, anyway.
But this time it's different, suggested a Bayer press release. Until now, all combined hormonal birth control methods sold in the United States--pills, the patch, even the ring--have differed only in their progestin components. The estrogen, in all of them, was the same--ethinyl estradiol. The same is not true for various other countries in Europe, who have been using the new, synthetic estrogen found in Natazia since 2009.
All this is about to change. On May 6, 2010 the Food and Drug Administration approved Natazia as the first ever birth control pill to use estradiol valerate in the United States. In combination with the progestin, dienogest, a synthetic progesterone with anti-androgenic (or anti-testosterone) properties, Natazia is expected to best other birth control pills in controlling heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding.
In a study that gave women either Qlaira (the European version of Natazia) or placebo pills for 90 days, Bayer found that women on the true pill had decreased menstrual bleeding over all. The same could be said however, about a wealth of birth control pills and without closely examining the study in detail, it's difficult to know the pill's true implications on menorrhagia.
One of the main fallacies with the new pill is that researchers neglected to evaluate its efficacy in women with a BMI over 30. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 30-percent of all Americans are obese (defined as a BMI greater than 30). This means that for almost one-third of all U.S. women, Natazia hasn't been proven to work. And here's another surprising fact: birth control, in general, isn't expected to work as well in obese women. Natazia isn't the only pill that discourages physicians from prescribing to women with high BMIs. This is because combined hormonal contraceptives have been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (stroke especially) in obese women. It's not a discriminatory issue, it's a health issue, and a serious one at that.
So if you're not obese and willing to take a chance on a new, possibly revolutionary, type of pill, there don't appear to be too many drawbacks at the moment. Two large, multi-center phase three trials of Natazia found that the most common side effect was headache (at 13 percent). Less than two-percent of all 1,800 plus participants experienced side effects, some of which included irregular bleeding, breast pain or tenderness, nausea and vomiting, acne, and a slight weight increase. To find out more about Natazia, which Bayer plans to release later this summer, talk with your health care provider.
To read more about the fascinating world of contraception development and what all goes into creating breakthroughs like the ring, patch, IUD, and more, check out the following article on Slate.com.
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I used this for only 3 months. Worst pill by far I have ever taken. Gave me teenager like acne that didn't go away at all. My hair lost its Color and got dingy and oily no matter what I did. I got horrible insomnia couldn't sleep more than 4 hrs. And when I did sleep horrible vividly dreams. Been off for 3 to 4 weeks now and still not sleeping and still having vivid crazy dreams. Also I have interstital cystitis which natazia made worse. While taking it I peed a minimum of z5 times a night and all during the day. Since I stopped it hasn't stopped all my cystitis symptoms came back and stayed. I bated these pills and I'm ruined. I will never be the same.February 10, 2013 - 12:39am
I have just finished my 2nd pack of Natasia and I hate it! I been on birth control for 11 years due for Endometriosis and have tried about every form of birth control available. I was taking Zarah and loved it but my hormones became all out of whack so my OB switched my BC. Come to find out it was my thyroid not my BC that was giving me problems. Since the first week of taking Natasia I have had horrible acne! I have more acne than I did back in jr. high, enough so that my OB prescribed me acne medication (which is not helping). I have not had acne in years and now a working professional hiding jr. high-like acne. Not to mention, awful mood swings...I cry at everything and feel on edge all the time. I know there are tons of legal issues with Zarah but I will take my chances over this crazy pill!July 6, 2012 - 8:21pm
I am 27 years old and seen six different OB, none could regulate my period. One month I'd be on my period all 30 days and miss it for eight months to a year. Which not only did I have troubles getting my period, but when I did...I would run two rolls of toilet papers, run out of pads, it was a horrible experience. Until I finally came across a doctor who prescribed Natazia. He put me on a four month trial and within the first pack...I was amazed at the results. I am on the third pack, and I've had four day periods, regular bleeding, and the only side effect I have is tender breasts. But I recommend it. I love it, I've never felt more relieved and I can't believe I will type this but...I am happy to get my period on its schedule, last the same amount of time, and not worry about my past experiences with heavy bleeding.January 17, 2012 - 2:13pm
MMMMmm well I am hoping I dont have any bad side effects. I was just prescribed this as I have heavy Heavy prolonged bleeding & Ultrasound is normal. FSH levels normal. Period over a month now. I guess I will take a chance & get back to let you all knowAugust 15, 2011 - 8:25pm
Natazia was a nightmare for me. I had a terrible case of insomnia that progressed the longer I was on it. I felt my heart pounding in my chest at night, I started having panic attacks and by the time I stopped taking it I was sleeping only three hours a night. I'm a completely different person since I stopped taking it. What a relief.January 15, 2011 - 6:17pm
I was on the Depo shot but stopped taking that back in April 10 and by september 10 I started my 1st natural period and from september to november I had 7 periods. I was really heavy in menstrual bleeding and cramps so my Ob wanted me to take Nataxia to help with all scenarios since all other forms of bc I was allergic to. I am on day 1 of my second pack now and I have had no period, I have only had a rea mild case of irritability, mild case of insomnia and no weight gain. I would recommend this to anyone and in fact my mother just got samples from her doctor last week. Surprisingly I'm doing great with Nataxia, and also I was a pack a day smoker and I don't know if Nataxia has a cessation capability but I haven't really wanted a cigarette, I have a couple puffs here and there but I won't go through 1 pack in almost 2 weeks.December 14, 2010 - 8:31am
I just started taking this and soo far so good, the only bad part is I have had some crazy dreams every night since I've been on this pill and mild insomnia but other than that no migranes no wieght gain and no period! So ill take the crazy dreams anyday over everything I use to get with my monthly gift...so I give it 8 out of 10 starsNovember 23, 2010 - 2:59pm