‘The pill’ for what ails you: Contraceptive lifestyle drugs and the medicalization of menstruation through direct-to-consumer-advertisements

Date

2010-05

Authors

Deane, Amber Elizabeth

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Abstract

For this study I used a mix-methods approach to explain how DTCAs are medicalizing menstruation and women's responses to this occurrence. I conducted content and discourse analysis of the full advertisement campaigns of YAZ and Seasonique to identify manifest and latent meanings of text and images using coding techniques. Drawing on this analysis, I conducted focus group discussions with women regarding their attitudes, beliefs and opinions about menstruation, menstrual suppression and DTCAs that advocate for the medicalization of menstruation. Using a grounded theory approach, I developed a theoretical model that speaks to how menstruation is socially constructed as a medical condition in DTCAs and how these messages in turn impact women's understanding of menstruation. Women favor their own embodied experiences of menstruation over the socially constructed idea that menstruation is a medical condition promoted by the pharmaceutical industry. Findings are presented at both the macro and micro perspective and indicate that menstruation is an anxious and stressful event in women's lives. However, due to the fear and risks associated with prescription drugs, participants are unwilling to embrace a full medical conceptualization of menstruation.

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Keywords

Social sciences, Contraceptives, Direct to consumer advertising, Lifestyle drugs, Menstruation

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