-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, Jan. 17 (HealthDay News) -- There's more evidence that
use of the oral contraceptive pill can help ease the cramps,
bloating and other pain some women experience during their
Some previous research, as well as anecdotal evidence, have
suggested that the Pill could help women with painful periods, but
a 2009 review of all available research concluded there was limited
evidence for such a conclusion.
The new findings, from a Swedish study that has been running for
30 years, show that women who used the combined birth control pill
(estrogen plus progestin) suffered less severe pain than women who
did not use the Pill, the researchers said.
Their study findings appear online Jan. 18 in the journal
Experts estimate that pain associated with menstrual periods
accounts for 600 million lost working hours and $2 billion in lost
productivity in the United States each year.
One expert in the United States noted that doctors have long
used the Pill to help ease such symptoms.
"Many obstetrician/gynecologists have used oral contraceptive pills to help alleviate menstrual pain, otherwise known as dysmenorrhea," said Dr. Jenifer Wu, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "This is technically an off-label use of these commonly prescribed medications," she added.
The Swedish researchers noted that younger women typically
suffer more from painful periods than older women. And while they
did find that symptoms eased somewhat with increasing age, the
effects of age and Pill use were independent of each other and use
of the Pill had a greater effect overall.
The study included three groups of women who turned 19 in 1981,
1991 and 2001. Each group included 400 to 520 women, who were asked
about their pattern of menstruation and menstrual pain,
reproductive history, contraceptive use, height and weight.
The women provided this information at ages 19 and 24.
"By comparing women at different ages, it was possible to demonstrate the influence of [the Pill] on the occurrence and severity of dysmenorrhea, at the same time taking into account possible changes due to increasing age," Dr. Ingela Lindh, of the Institute of Clinical Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy at Gothenburg University, said in a journal news release. "We found there was a significant difference in the severity of dysmenorrhea depending on whether or not the women used combined oral contraceptives."
Dr. Steven Goldstein, an obstetrician/gynecologist at NYU
Langone Medical Center in New York City, said: "The study results
are not surprising. It's gratifying to see researchers documenting
scientifically what practitioners have been seeing for a very long
time. The amount of discomfort from a woman's period with a
combination birth control pill is a fraction of what it is without
the Pill. There is a diminution of pain from the Pill."
For her part, Wu believes that "doctors should include a
discussion of all the benefits and risks when presenting birth
control options, and the improvement of dysmenorrhea is a
significant benefit to oral contraceptive pills."
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.