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September 27th, 2010
05:46 PM ET

New birth control pill adds folate

A new oral contraceptive that contains folic acid has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Folic acid helps the body make healthy new cells and is critical for pregnant women because it helps prevent major birth defects of the brain and spine such as spina bifida.

The tablet, called Beyaz, has both estrogen and progestin but also contains a folate, a B-vitamin essential for cell growth and reproduction. Beyaz is made by Bayer Schering Pharma and is based on Bayer's previously approved birth control pill YAZ.

Beyaz is approved for pregnancy prevention and a severe form of premenstrual syndrome called premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD which can cause a host of symptoms including severe depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating and mood swings.  Beyaz can also be used to treat moderate acne in adolescents at least 14 years old who already have their menstrual cycles and are taking birth control pills.

Getting enough folic acid before and during pregnancy will prevent most neural tube defects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests women take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day, starting at least a month before getting pregnant. Beyaz has 451 mcg of folic acid.

Dr. Sharon Mass, an OBGYN in private practice in Morristown, New Jersey, thinks the addition of folic acid is a good one.  "From the contraceptive perspective we have a commonly used pill with an excellent history in pregnancy prevention–the pill is 99 percent effective when taken as directed." Now there's an added "benefit of giving preconception folic acid to women in their childbearing years which is important for reducing the risk of neural tube defects in a pregnancy that might be conceived after discontinuing the pill," she continued.


soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. keri

    Ok, so you're taking to pill in order NOT to get pregnant, but by offering a folate-fortified pill, the company is as good as admitting that it isn't completely effective in preventing pregnancy. And if the pill is so dangerous to take after you're pregnant, is that a good reason to use another BC method? If you want to conceive later, can't you just take a pre-natal supplement? But, while you're on the pill, you're specifically trying not to conceive, so is a birth defect even relevant or what's the point of folates if you're just going to abort anyway?

    September 27, 2010 at 19:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dana

      Did you actually READ the article? It doesn't appear you did. Nothing is 100 percent effective at preventing pregnancy except abstinence.

      September 27, 2010 at 19:32 | Report abuse |
    • evoc

      Dana: And, according to Jesus's mom, not even that...

      September 27, 2010 at 20:41 | Report abuse |
    • Yopses

      The folate is being added because you need to take it consistently for BEFORE you get pregnant. All they are trying to do is add the folate for people who decide to get off the pill. That way, they would have a healthy dose of folate for months/ or years while on the pillwhich reduces the rate of neural tube defects for when they get off and start actively trying to have a baby.

      September 27, 2010 at 22:00 | Report abuse |
    • Veritas

      Dana, that would actually imply that keri knew how to read, which is doubtful.

      September 27, 2010 at 22:30 | Report abuse |
    • Dr Bill Toth

      Keri asks some great questions! For about a 100 years the AMA refused to even acknowledge vitamins...then in 2002 it recommended that adults should take a multivitamin and now apparently women should take just folate with a drug??
      Live with Intention, DrBillToth.com/blog

      September 28, 2010 at 07:28 | Report abuse |
    • Dana

      Phony Doc, Keri is an idiot and so are you, not to mention the fact that you're hawking your wares for profit. Blow!

      September 28, 2010 at 09:08 | Report abuse |
    • Sarah in Texas

      Your questions are irrelevant. They are not admitting their product doesn't work, they're just adding something that some people may see as an added benefit. Lots of responsible women use birth control up until they are ready to concieve, which means it makes perfect sense (for some) to include a pre-natal supplement in the pill they are already taking daily. And to say that birth defects shouldn't be a concern to women who are on the pill because they would abort anyway is beyond ignorant. I do not wish to get pregnant at present, but if I did, I would happily give birth to my child nine months later, as would many women.

      September 28, 2010 at 09:40 | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      Ok, so you're taking to pill in order NOT to get pregnant, but by offering a folate-fortified pill, the company is as good as admitting that it isn't completely effective in preventing pregnancy. And if the pill is so dangerous to take after you're pregnant, is that a good reason to use another BC method? If you want to conceive later, can't you just take a pre-natal supplement? But, while you're on the pill, you're specifically trying not to conceive, so is a birth defect even relevant or what's the point of folates if you're just going to abort anyway?

      Keri, I think you are mistaken. I don't believe that the makers of Beyaz are in any way admitting that birth control is ineffective. They are merely adding a vitamin that would be necessary once one quit the Pill to become pregnant. They are preemptively addressing a vitamin deficiency. If you quit taking the Pill to become pregant, hey look! You already have the folic acid you need! Whoa. Yes, you can take a pre-natal supplement. But what's so wrong with getting the vitamins you need before you even plan on getting pregnant?

      I'm a little disappointed that you assume all unplanned pregnancies will be aborted. If I were to accidentally conceive while on the Pill (I take Yazmin), I would not abort whether the pregnancy was planned, unplanned, or whether or not I had any of the right vitamins. That's a silly and unfair assumption.

      September 28, 2010 at 09:41 | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      Oops, sorry.... didn't mean to include the original text in my post.

      September 28, 2010 at 09:42 | Report abuse |
    • Ken in WA

      @ Sarah in Texas It's not so inconceivable (ha!) that women whose BC fails will get an abortion. Alan Guttmacher Institute says that of all the abortions performed in the U.S., 54% of the women were contracepting when they became pregnant.

      September 28, 2010 at 12:50 | Report abuse |
    • Bethaney

      I think its a great idea. No matter what your going to have that folic acid in your system. So if your on the pill with the intent not to get pregnant, and then if you decide you want to conceive you are already one step ahead of the game. And what about for all the people who forget their pill one day and as we know, if you fail to take the pill on a regular basis the effectivity is greatly reduced. Its a safety net.

      September 28, 2010 at 14:04 | Report abuse |
    • Pickles

      The idea is NOT that the pill is ineffective, but that women may want to have children AFTER being on the pill and this starts the build up of folic acid in their bodies which assists in neural development. I have been on birth control pills for years. When my now husband and I first started talking about marriage (a few years ago), my gynecologist told me to start taking a multivitamin with folic acid in it along with my birth control pills, so that when we do try to have children I will already have that folic acid built up in my body to help with the fetal development. As a newlywed, I am still on the pill and take my multivitamin with folic acid every day. When we do decide to start trying for children, which we think will be within the next couple years, I know my children will develop much healthier than others because of the folic acid in my multivitamin.

      September 28, 2010 at 18:43 | Report abuse |
    • Mark from Omaha

      @ Pickles If you don't mind my asking, what's the cost of your pills versus the multivitamins? A good question would be if this pill is going to be more expensive than just taking the vitamins separately.

      September 28, 2010 at 18:56 | Report abuse |
    • Brittany

      Folic acid supplements need to be taken at least 3 months before trying to conceive. Regular bcp reduces your body's ability to absorb folic acid. This bcp helps your body do that. If you would have read the article you would have known that. Having a child with a NTD is an extremely difficult position to be in and the more measures taken to help prevent this from happening the better.

      November 3, 2010 at 00:37 | Report abuse |
  2. Fuyuko

    Hmm, well it is interesting the other things it can be used to treat. I wonder if the folic acid is as difficult to take as other forms of B are. Unfortunately, I cannot take the pill. Too many side effects. But if it works for people, and can help them with depression and acne to boot. Great! =-)

    September 27, 2010 at 19:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Dan

    "suggests women take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day, starting at least a month before getting pregnant. Beyaz has 451 mg of folic acid."

    so Beyaz has 451,000 micrograms (451 mg) of folic acid. Isn't that like over a thousand fold more folic acid then the recommended 400 micrograms?!?!? either this is some trumped up stuff or the writer doesn't know the difference between a microgram and a milligram.

    September 27, 2010 at 19:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Helen

      The particular type of folate in Beyaz converts to approximately 400 mcgs of folic acid. Not all types of folic acid (and there are several) are measured in the same IUs.

      September 27, 2010 at 20:26 | Report abuse |
    • Valerie

      I am thinking that the author thought that mg was the the abbreviation for microgram, either that or they were writing on a Mac and the symbol didn't convert in the final copy.

      September 27, 2010 at 21:52 | Report abuse |
    • JLS639

      In my lab work, I have not listened to purists (whose ideas date from the pre-computer days) and have rationally substituted "u" for the Greek letter mu for micro-. The problem is often word processors, who are often programmed to be "user-friendly" and NOT DO what you tell them to do, will convert "mu" into "m." This has been the cause of failed experiments, faulty products, numerous misunderstandings and arguments and a host of other problems. If you write "u," people familiar with SI/metric system will know what you are talking about. "u" is not used anywhere else in SI prefixes. Please, just write ug for micrograms. Writing mu-g will only cause confusion and could cause tangible problems.

      September 28, 2010 at 06:38 | Report abuse |
  4. missadr

    Does anyone else think this is funny? I had a good hard laugh when I saw the headline. I mean, vitamins in our birth control pills? This just takes health-conscious marketing ploys to a whole new hysterical level. Any second now, they're going to lace plastic bags with vitamin D.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Sam

    Just get pregnant at the age nature intended for you to have babies and you wont have to worry about all this folic schmolick.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Readmore

      Uh, Sam, ALL women should get enough folic acid for a healthy pregnancy and baby, regardless of age. As for those who don't get pregnant, it's good for them too.

      September 28, 2010 at 11:24 | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      @Readmore. Tune in again in 5 years. Medical science changes its mind more often than a woman choosing a handbag.

      September 28, 2010 at 11:34 | Report abuse |
    • Larry

      Ohh Sam – as a medical student doing research in this field, you are SO wrong. Folate-deficiency birth defects happen in babies born to women of all ages...you just didn't hear about it before because before it was discovered they were just "birth defects" in general (not folate-related because ppl didn't know about folate). There's been a dramatic decrease in birth defects in babies from women of ALL ages after discovering the benefits of folate – this is true numerical evidence, and there is a remarkable difference in the number of defects that occur in developing/3rd world countries vs. USA where people take their nutrients, AND folate. Don't be so naive before getting the facts.

      March 1, 2011 at 01:04 | Report abuse |
  6. JJ

    just because you take pre-natals or folic acid doesn't mean its making you more fertile. they're vitamins that are supposed to improve your health.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Beth

    I think this could be a step in the right direction. Do some research, almost all woman on the pill are deficient in Folic Acid. The problems that can result from these deficiencies can be serious.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Andy

    But Yaz has proven to be wildly harmful........?

    – A

    September 28, 2010 at 12:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      Yup. Even one of the doctors who helped make the drug tells patients that it screws them up.

      September 28, 2010 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
  9. Mark

    Oh these vitamins!? No, no, these aren't for you. These are for my future pregnancies.

    September 28, 2010 at 12:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • pamela

      Mom always loved you best!

      September 28, 2010 at 17:42 | Report abuse |
  10. crisi-tunity

    If I'm taking a BIRTH CONTROL pill, why would I want a vitamin that's good for pregnancy? I mean, it makes sense to be including folate in your diet if you plan to conceive, but why specifically in the drug I'm taking so as NOT to become pregnant?

    September 28, 2010 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Larry

      bc say you are taking birth control right now, but decide that I want a baby. So tomorrow you stop and start trying to conceive. Well, you need a few months worth of folate in your system, so you'd have to decide you want a baby, take folate for several months, and then start trying to conceive, which may take more time. This way you skip all that waiting/planning business, and folate in your diet is GOOD for you anyways.

      March 1, 2011 at 01:07 | Report abuse |
  11. Clarence

    Bologna

    September 28, 2010 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Eugene

    Skittles

    September 28, 2010 at 13:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Karen

    Beyaz...Yaz...folate or no folate this is a dangerous OCP that causes BLOOD CLOTS!

    September 28, 2010 at 14:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Larry

      dummy it's not otc. yeah it can cause blood clots. So can about 1,000 other things. It only causes blood clots if you are predisposed or have risk factors like smoking. You know what's even more dangerous? Tylenol. Actually one of the most dangerous OTC drugs out there – one of the commonest causes of liver trransplant and overdoses because just a few too many pills and ESP + alcohol can kill someone easily.
      Doctors / Pharmacitsts aren't stupid – they study all the effects of this stuff before putting it out on the market and before prescribing it to the patient. If you haven't studied medicine, you don't even have the slightest idea how complicated it is.

      March 1, 2011 at 01:11 | Report abuse |
  14. CD

    Just another way for "Pill" pushers to justify their drug and market it to their buyers. In actuality. the Pill negatively affects a woman's reproductive system and her chance at having children. Some studies indicate it may increase breast cancer. And, it also can cause chemical abortions. Get off the Pill ladies. Be a true feminist and embrace your womanhood.

    September 28, 2010 at 14:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dana

      Bite me.

      September 28, 2010 at 19:01 | Report abuse |
    • Larry

      Completely wrong facts. Protective against breast cancer. Look where you are getting ur "studies". Protective against most cancers. ONly thing is you may get a bloood clot if u smoke, and that too in ur leg that you'd realizee pretty soon.

      March 1, 2011 at 01:12 | Report abuse |
  15. oingoboingo

    This is pointless. It seems to me that this is their way of saying, "Well, in case you get pregnant while using our pill, at least the baby won't have spina bifida!" Seriously.

    If someone is on the pill prior to trying to get pregnant, they should fortify their diet on their own. It has been proven that folate does not easily get absorbed in the body, so women should supplement with folic acid daily if they are trying to conceive, as the acid form is more readily absorbed.

    This is just nonsensical.

    September 28, 2010 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Cieje Valentine

    Oh, so you're all feminists! How CUTE!!

    September 28, 2010 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. LT

    The Pill doesn't affect fertility, according to the most recent studies, and it has also been proven to hugely reduce a woman's chances of ovarian cancer. There is no definite link between breast cancer and pill use. It also can eliminate painful cramps and hormonal migraines. It's also extremely effective as contraception. Take the pill ladies, and embrace your womanhood - without cramps, migraines, acne, and unwanted babies!

    But this whole folate thing makes no sense at all....

    September 28, 2010 at 17:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • pamela

      You sound like a commercial.

      September 28, 2010 at 17:41 | Report abuse |
  18. Soffea

    Why are we always the ginnea pigs for all these so called good things they want to put in our bodies, years ago estrogen was suppose to be the best thing for women sinced sliced bread it prevented heart disease was supposed to keep us young est,est. People take responcibility for your health quit eating all that garbage and start eating lhealthy quit going to restarauts fast food places and educate yourself about good nutrition.

    September 28, 2010 at 19:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dana

      Yeah, I'm really interested in the medical advice of someone who can't figure out how to spell 'guinea pig' before she uses the words to make some imagined point. How 'bout you educate yourself in basic English, dear, before you start giving out medical advice?

      September 28, 2010 at 20:51 | Report abuse |
    • Wenn

      atlas_junkie / Your OB should prscreibe a multivitamin which will have everything your growing baby needs! Be really careful about taking any herbs during pregnancy. There's a lot of controversial information out there. A lot of things you would think might be safe because they are "all natural" can pose serious health risks to your unborn baby. Congrats!

      August 2, 2012 at 09:05 | Report abuse |
  19. Dana

    Here, those of you who are yapping about whether this additional vitamin is necessary or not: Folic acid , also known as folate, is well recognized for its value in the prevention of certain birth defects. It may have another important health benefit. A large study showed that women who consumed more folic acid had a significantly reduced risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension).

    Folic acid is one of the B vitamins found in foods such as leafy green vegetables, fruits, dried beans, and peas. A synthetic form of folic acid is used in dietary supplements and fortified foods. Folic acid acts by helping the body produce and maintain new cells. In particular, red blood cell formation is dependent upon adequate levels of this vitamin. Folic acid deficiency is a known cause of anemia in both adults and children. Folate may also help cells resist changes in their DNA associated with the development of cancer.

    Studies have shown that beginning folic acid supplementation before conception significantly reduces the incidence of birth defects known as neural tube defects (malformations of the spine and brain) such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Folic acid supplements are routinely prescribed for women who may become pregnant.

    Doctors at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston examined medical records from over 150,000 women ranging in age from 23 to 70, followed for over eight years, and found that those who took folic acid supplements had a reduced risk for the development of hypertension. The researchers caution that this study does not prove that folic acid supplements can be used to treat high blood pressure, since a clinical trial has not been carried out that answers this question. Still, the results are encouraging and point to a possible additional benefit of dietary folic acid supplementation.

    Folic acid supplements are inexpensive, readily available without a prescription, and are considered safe.

    Reference: Forman JP, Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ, Curhan GC. Folate intake and the risk of incident hypertension among US women. JAMA. 2005 Jan 19;293:320-9.

    September 28, 2010 at 20:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • pamela

      "Folic acid supplements are inexpensive, readily available without a prescription, and are considered safe."

      Exactly. None of what you're writing is disputed, but it has absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with why the folate should be added to oral contraceptive pills.

      September 29, 2010 at 00:13 | Report abuse |
  20. folic acid lady

    19 years ago our state had the worst rate in the nation of pregnancies affected with neural tube defects which are birth defects of the brain and spine. Just by getting women to take folic acid which is in a multivitamin prior to becoming pregnant (these defects happen within the first 28 days after conception) we have reduced our rate by over 60%!! So instead of 100 or so babies affected with these defects we now have around 40 per year! Just by doing something as simple as taking a multivitamin every day whether you are trying to become pregnant or not. Over half of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned so for this to happen is wonderful. We have pursued this since the early 1990s and now it is happening. Great news!

    September 29, 2010 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Prom Night Hooker

    ZASDLJLAFJLAKF:VLJAOIEOIQR@$(*&^&$&^!

    Take that Corporate Whores!

    September 29, 2010 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Heather

    I think that adding folate to the pill will help so much better in the long run! They are simply trying to help women prevent a neural tube defect from happening if they get pregnant while on the pill or coming off. No it won't totally prevent it but I'm sure it will help a great deal. Being one who has lost a child to a neural tube defect I'm all for adding folate to the pill and seeing what becomes of this pill, granted women should still take a folate supplement everyday.

    October 1, 2010 at 14:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Melissa

      That happened to me too, Heather. I wish all OB drs make it a point to have every patient take extra folic acid. It's too much of a risk not too.

      October 12, 2010 at 22:41 | Report abuse |
  23. Melissa

    Nobody will probably read this by now, but I have MTHFR. Apparently, one of my chromosomes lacks the ability to produce folic acid. That is what my OB dr. said when I had my miscarriage at 16 weeks. Still couldn't figure out what had happened, but my new-found genetic disorder was great to know for future pregnancies. I had my 1st child 4 months ago. I wanted to go back on the pill, but Dr. said the pill will increase the chance for blod-clotting. (because of the MTHFR) So I did the depo shot instead, which I don't like very much. Not to be vain and call out the weight gain issue, but also a lot of other issues including the fact I wouldn't be able to be fertile again until 12-18 months after I stop taking the shot!

    Well, the point is...and sorry it's taking so long. This new pill would be great for me. I prefer the pill and blood-clotting wouldn't be an issue. Plus, whenever we decide to have our 2nd, I won't have to wait so long to become fertile again. And I would have been taking my folic acid, like doc wants me to take for the rest of my life. (which I slack in doing)

    October 12, 2010 at 22:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Coni

      Thank you, My daughter has had 2 miscarriages in the last year because of missing a dose of BC pill. She miscarried both times at 6 wks. She is still grieving and has tried the Nuvaring and hates it. To many side effects. Her friend had the shot and went from a size 6 to 16 in less than a year. they should outlaw that one. At least with this pill maybe her 1st baby would have made it because they say its fetal development thats causing the miscarriages. She sees a specialist next month and your problem MTHFR may be hers too, Congrats on the baby and good luck with all future children.

      January 20, 2011 at 16:32 | Report abuse |
    • Lacey

      NO NO NO Please do not take it!!! You need a special kind of folate that you body can use. Look for L methylfolate. Its more broken down so its easier for you body to use. Depending on where exactly the mutation is regular folic acid can hurt you way more than help. If you have it a c677t your body cant break it down at all and it just builds up in your system. If you have it at A1298C its not as dangerous.

      August 2, 2015 at 09:44 | Report abuse |
  24. RO

    okay but this is still not tellin me if they actually improved tha pill.. is this jus tha same pill that was killing women and causing major health problems with folic acid added to it or did they lower tha number of blood clots and tha risks?

    November 1, 2010 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Hill

    Companies like Bayer know when one of their major products is going generic. Therefore they change just a little something to make a new product. It started with Yasmin. Yaz came out when Yasmin went generic. Now Yaz went generic, and magically Beyaz is released.

    November 4, 2010 at 22:07 | Report abuse | Reply

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