Monday, December 17, 2007

Commercials make me laugh and cry...

I've been watching more television since I moved a few months back (the curse of having cable television again is that my love of crime drama and cartoons can be fed more regularly. Curse you CSI, and your intriguing characters and stylistic who-done-its!). One of the drawbacks of watching of television over movies is that, well... there are commercials. Most commercials are just stupid or annoying, and a few are kind of funny or interesting.

One commercial that I've seen a number of times, now, that's been really getting on my nerves is the commercial for Mirena. You can watch the ad there, too. Mirena is an IUD, is 99.9% effective, and lasts for up to 5 years. It's also, apparently, for women who "have had a child" and "are in a stable relationship". When you click on the "Who can use Mirena?" under their FAQ, it tells you:
Mirena is appropriate for women who:
    Have had at least one child

    Are looking for an effective, reversible form of birth control that's easy to use

    Are in a mutually monogamous relationship

Now, my initial reaction was to be annoyed by this. It's the same problem that women who want to get surgically sterlized face- they're basically being told that, if you don't have kids yet, you're not the right person for longterm or permanent birth control. Still, I thought, there might be a reason... after all, pregnancy does alter your body, so maybe there was a reason?

So, I checked the World Health Organization's Medical eligibility criteria for contraceptive use: Intrauterine devices page. A little research, and I learned that Mirena is classified as LNG-IUD. So, we take a look at the Parity section- that is, have you had children or not- and what do we find? If you're parous, you're rated at 1. That's good. It means that you are very eligible. If you're nulliparous- have not had children- you're rated a 2. Which is still very good, especially when you read the evidence note:

Evidence: There are conflicting data regarding whether IUD use is associated with infertility among nulliparous women, although recent, well-conducted studies suggest no increased risk.

(Also: They have a section for Romacing the Bedroom? Ugh)

So, yeah, I still find it annoying. But, I'm willing to admit that I'm coming to this with limited understanding of all of the medical stuff. Is there legitimate reason why a woman having multiple partners shouldn't use an IUD?

Moving on: Burger King has a new ad where they show what happened when they had one of their locations stop serving the Whopper. To quote the commercial- people freaked. It was "Whopper Freakout". Which is fine, if stupid. After all, if McDonalds stopped serving the Big Mac or Happy Meals, you'd likely get a lot of people saying things like "This is stupid. That's crazy." etc.

Near the end of the video, they give people the wrong burgers and act like it's the customer's fault. Which, of course, pisses them off. They see this as evidence that people just have to have the Whopper. I see it as evidence that customers don't like to be treated like idiots and want to receive the things that they paid for. I suspect if I went to McDonalds and served a Whopper instead of a Big Mac, people would get pissed, too. But, whatever.

You can see the part that really has me annoyed and confused at 4:30.

"If Burger King doesn't have the Whopper, they might as well call themselves Burger Queen."

I mean... what does that even really mean? Burger Queen? Like, what, if Dairy Queen started serving a shitty burger covered in Thousand Island dressing they'd become Dairy King, but since they don't, they're just a Queen? It's obviously meant as an insult, but I just don't understand what the insult is supposed to imply- Whoppers are manly and if you don't have them you're a girl?

I guess it's convenient that I think Burger King is shite anyway.

A commercial I did like, though, was the Mr. T spot for World of Warcraft. No feminist analysis, it's just him talking about his Night Elf's mowhawk or something like that. And when the devs try to tell him that there aren't mowhawks, Mr. T yells at them. I bet he pities the fools. It made me laugh. *shrug*


roses said...

Is there legitimate reason why a woman having multiple partners shouldn't use an IUD?

I think what they were probably getting at is that an IUD doesn't protect against STIs. So if you're having sex with multiple partners, you should probably be using condoms. But it's a stupid way to put it, because there's no reason somebody having sex with multiple partners can't use condoms and an IUD.

EG said...

The other thing with IUDs, from what I hear, is that since they're inserted through the cervix, the process is significantly less painful and easier if that cervix has already opened up once in order to allow an infant through. I do think this is a case of this particular method being actually physically better suited to women who've given birth already.

For the multiple partner thing, yeah, I think Roses is probably right, but it would have been better to say that IUDs do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, herpes, etc. For one thing, I know at least one woman who was contracted chlamydia when she thought she was in a monogamous relationship, but her boyfriend was a cheating sleazebag.

EG said...

OK, I've now read the "Romancing the Bedroom" section, and my skin is crawling. God forbid you have books in the bedroom! Books aren't romantic!

But even worse:

Set extra time aside for one another by setting the alarm clock a half hour earlier at least once a week

I suppose it depends on if my significant other wanted to spend time with me while I growled at him/her, told him/her to fuck off and leave me alone and let me get some more sleep. If not, this would be a really bad idea. In fact, I would quickly grow to hate my significant other as the cause of my misery, and my significant other would probably leave me ASAP rather than have his/her head bitten off and throat spat down once a week.

Made a commitment to get a babysitter once or twice a month to have more "alone" time in the bedroom upstairs

Speaking for babysitters everywhere, may I just say EWWWW. I really love the families I sit for. I love their kids, and the parents have become like adopted families to me. I want them to go out and have a good time, and I love it when they're affectionate. But the idea of coming over and taking care of the kids while knowing that they're having the sex just upstairs? NO. Absolutely not. If you must do this sort of thing, hire me to take your kids to a movie or the zoo or something and then have the sex in your empty house while I do not run the risk of hearing you. Even in this case, you should be prepared for an early arrival home due to Unforeseen Vomitting, or Intense Homesickness, or something like that.

And also, if you think a kid in a house with her parents is incapable of eluding the grasp of even the most alert babysitter, running quick as a bunny upstairs and pounding on the door to show Mama and Papa the special drawing she just made for them, you are the more mistaken.

Sovawanea said...

As a woman who does not want children and who would love long term birth control if she had the time to find a doctor who would insert an IUD (I had one referral and had to cancel it and now my doctor is affiliated with a Catholic hospital and I would have to go out of network for a referral which is just annoying and I've put it off for the time being), I am also bothered by the Mirena commercials.

From research I did over a year ago, there does seem to be some valid concerns about IUDs increasing the risk of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, which is a serious complication of more common STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea. It's a concern, however, a thorough history and testing for STDs prior to insertion could be used by doctors to determine if an individual woman is a good candidate. Because even if she's in a stable, monogamous relationship right now, the device will be in for 5 years. Consistent use of barrier methods when not in a monogamous relationship and negative STD tests would seem to be better predictors in the long term of the risk of contracting STDs and developing PID than relationship status at the time of the procedure.

And while the procedure can be a little more difficult/painful when a woman has not given birth, that's still a risk that should be considered between an individual woman and her doctor. C-sections have greater risks of complications than delivering vaginally, but women and their doctors are allowed to routinely request these, even for convenience reasons. I'm also skeptical that this, rather than a general belief that women will always change their minds or can't be sure about deciding not to get pregnant is truly behind the drug company guidelines or many doctors not being willing to do the procedure. I have a suspicion that a woman who has had not children will have a much more difficult time than a woman who had a child by a scheduled C-section before her due date.

ouyangdan said...

yes. having your cervix changed by having a baby makes the insertion of mirena easier, and something about the shape difference makes the chance of perforation less...

the multiple parter thing only bugged me when i was told by one doc that since i wasn't married i couldn't have one, b/c that was the only way to make sure that i was in a mutually monogamous...ha! i found a different doc...but i am's not that they don't protect against STIs, b/c they stress using condoms in addition to the IUD, but it's b/c if you get one, it makes it more dangerous and nasty. it irritates me b/c they think that everyone is too stupid to realize the risk of infection...i don't know that it's a legitimate reason, just the reasons they gave me when i finally got mine...

ouyangdan said...

i should have added at the first paragraph i wrote:

but the risk of the pain should be b/t the woman and her's not a rule, but just a factoid, ya know? it's easier to put in...but that doesn't mean it can't be done...

J.B. Kochanie said...


I'm Kochanie, who blogs at Figleaf's

Approximately one year ago, I saw an online ad for Mirena and, like you, I was troubled by what seemed like a moralistic precaution: having at least one child before using the hormone coated IUD. After a long and tedious search, I found the answer via the links provided by Ema of The Well-Timed Period. Here is an excerpt my comment on Figleaf's post about IUD's which I think will answer your questions:

The restrictions in the product information approved by the FDA/HHS may not be moralistic per se, as I previously thought. However, the restrictions apply to what the FDA terms two serious but uncommon side effects which are not emphasized in the IUD information provided by Planned Parenthood or ARHP:
(1) History or risk of ectopic pregnancy is the reason why the FDA does not want Mirena marketed to women who have not had at least one child.
(2) Increased risk of pelvic inflammatory disease is the reason why the FDA requires the monogamous relationship restriction. While some IUD users develop PID, the condition is more common among women who have more than one sexual partner, or whose partners have multiple partners. The product information is unclear about whether the IUD will make the pelvic inflammation worse or increase the chances of getting PID if you have the multiple partner risk.

The FDA may have included these restrictions due to the fallout from the Dalkon shield in the 1970's. But when you consider that the Mirena IUD, which is a safe alternative to oral contraceptives and a reversible alternative to sterilization, is not being made available to more women due to the FDA's need to protect itself, rather than the public, the end result is also sadly moralistic.

So why can't the FDA just let the manufacturer write ads that use the terms ectopic pregnancy and pelvic inflammatory disease? Sigh. Go figure.

Roy, different topic, but while I am here: just wanted to tell you that your post on the Feminist Critics was fair and generous. Some of the bloggers and commenters there, particularly Infra, are well-read, articulate and respectful of other points of view. But other commenters can be pesky or offensive which distracts from the discussion. Yes, you can find poor conduct at feminist blogs and libertarian blogs, etc. but that point is irrelevant if you sincerely want to have an intelligent discussion.

Anonymous said...

Agree with the other posters regarding the possibility of PID. I found a doctor willing to insert one though I haven't had children. But medical insurance wouldn't pay, and the cost is very high ($500+) without it.

The Mirena ad is super annoying. Not just the cloying family pastiche, but this: they move to Memphis, and then get snow and go skiing regularly. Really? Where do they go? Tupelo?

I've also read your comments on feministcritics and admire your generous and articulate approach.

thinking girl said...

I had a Mirena. for about two and a half years. I am childless, and I haven't been in a monogamous relationship in more than 5 years.
However, I live in Canada. the insertion was free under my wonderful universal health care system, and my drug plan through my university paid for 80% of the cost of the device. it was great, until my body rejected it, like the old copper T IUD I had before that. *sigh*

I think it's more likely that the drug company that produces Mirena wouldn't want to include the words ectopic pregnancy or pelvic inflammatory disease in their ads than the FDA doesn't let them.

also, bear in mind that drug companies can only recommend in an official way to the kind of group that was used in the testing process. that might have something to do with it as well.

The Snobographer said...

From what I gather, I'm misinformed and indoctrinated by scare tactics regarding IUDs, but they still freak me out.

EG said...

I don't know that I'd call it scare tactics--the Dalkon Shield really did ravage women's bodies, and render women who had wanted children infertile. Only a very small study was conducted on it, and the head researcher had a conflict of interest (he was to get a percentage of the profits on the sales). The company did their best to ignore and suppress more accurate information. It was an example of the cavalier way the medical establishment treated women's bodies, as at the time the FDA did not require any testing of "medical devices."

The whole thing left many people with a massive distaste for IUDs of any kind, perhaps--probably--unnecessary in the case of non-Dalkon Shield IUDs. But I wouldn't call that scare tactics. It was all true, and if anything, the company tried to downplay it.