Seasonale, Cont'd

Elizabeth Gettelman's essay on her experience with athlete's amenorrhea and the meaning of menstruation in her life ["That Time of the . . . Year," June 8] describes a very important perspective, and one that is under-represented in public discussion of the menstrual suppression offered by Seasonale and other extended-cycle oral contraceptive regimens.

The National Women's Health Network is concerned about how this method is being presented to women. Doctors are making unsupported claims of health and other benefits for menstrual suppression -- one went so far as to suggest that it will help girls to get better SAT scores, though there is no evidence for this. And the company that makes Seasonale, in its efforts to promote the product, has painted a one-sided picture of women's feelings about menstruation.

This is particularly a concern with respect to young teens who are just beginning to learn about menstruation. We don't know what the effect of introducing menstruation to pre-adolescents and newly menstruating girls as a negative experience will be on the girls' body image and on their newly forming understanding of the way their bodies function.

Some women will happily choose and use menstrual suppression. But the medical community, women's health advocates and pharmaceutical companies will do a disservice to women if we allow the flood of promotion for menstrual suppression to drown out the diversity of women's feelings on this topic and the voices of real women, like Gettelman.

Amy Allina

Program Director

National Women's Health Network

Washington

Gettelman writes that she is "more thoughtful, creative and reflective" with her period, and she is "someone who actually slows down and takes stock of [her] life and decisions when [she's] menstruating."

So she doesn't take stock of her decisions unless she has her period? I'd hate to be around her the other three weeks of the month. And what woman today slows down for four to six days every month while life goes on? She seems like a character from a 1970s douche commercial!

Women are not entirely controlled by their hormones. I hate to see this phony "Mother Earth" myth perpetuated.

Anna Tinker

New York

Drawing Blood

It is true, as you report in "Drawing Without a License" [June 1], that phlebotomists get little training and regulation and should be licensed. You missed the bigger picture, however.

Even those who supervise the phlebotomists are not licensed in most states. Medical technologists, who perform most of the moderate- and high-complexity testing of the medical lab and generally have the supervisory roles over the phlebotomists (although RNs may at some institutions), are not licensed, either.

Usually, hospitals prefer to hire phlebotomists and medical technologists who are educated and certified, but certification is a voluntary process. To me it seems a little ludicrous to have hairdressers and nail technicians licensed for the public safety, but not these hospital workers.

Kristy Shanahan, President-elect,

American Society for

Clinical Laboratory Science -- Illinois

Des Plaines, Ill.