Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Combined oral contraceptive pill helps painful periods

07.02.2012
A large Scandinavian study, that has been running for 30 years, has finally provided convincing evidence that the combined oral contraceptive pill does, indeed, alleviate the symptoms of painful menstrual periods reports scientists from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
The research is published in Europe´s leading reproductive medicine journal Human Reproduction. Although some previous studies and anecdotal evidence have suggested that the combined oral contraceptive pill could have an impact on painful periods, a 2009 review of all the available research by the prestigious Cochrane Collaboration concluded that there was limited evidence for pain improvement.

Less severe pain
The new findings by Dr Ingela Lindh and her colleagues at the Institute of Clinical Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy at Gothenburg University, Sweden, show that women who used the combined oral contraceptive pill suffered less severe pain compared with women who did not use it. Young women often seem to suffer more from painful periods than older women, and the researchers also found that increasing age did alleviate the symptoms, but the effects of pill use and age were independent of each other, with the pill having a greater effect.

Follow-up five years later
The researchers questioned three groups of women who reached the age of 19 in 1981, 1991 and 2001. Each group included approximately 400 to 520 women, who provided information on their height, weight, reproductive history, pattern of menstruation and menstrual pain, and contraceptive use. Five years later they were assessed again at the age of 24.

Significant difference
By comparing the same women at two different ages, the researchers were able to use each woman as her own control, enabling them to establish whether any reduction in severity of symptoms was due to combined oral contraceptive (COC) use or increasing age.
Dr Lindh, who is also a registered nurse and midwife, said: “By comparing women at different ages, it was possible to demonstrate the influence of COCs on the occurrence and severity of dysmenorrhoea, at the same time taking into account possible changes due to increasing age. We found there was a significant difference in the severity of dysmenorrhoea depending on whether or not the women used combined oral contraceptives.”

Two scales for measuring pain
Pain and other symptoms were measured by two different scales: VMS (verbal multidimensional scoring system), which grades pain as none, mild, moderate or severe, and also takes into account the effect on daily activity and whether any painkillers were required; and VAS (visual analogue scale), where a woman can grade her degree of pain on a 10 cm line that starts with “no pain at all” and ends with “unbearable pain”.

From severe pain to moderate
Dr Lindh said: “We found that combined oral contraceptive use reduced dysmenorrhoea by 0.3 units, which means that every third woman went one step down on the VMS scale, for instance from severe pain to moderate pain, and which meant that they suffered less pain, improved their working ability and there was a decrease in the need for analgesics. On the VAS scale there was a reduction in pain of nine millimetres.”

Age also a factor
Independent of the effect of COC use, the researchers found that increasing age reduced the severity of dysmenorrhoea but not as much as COC did; it shifted women down 0.1 units on the VMS scale and five millimetres on the VAS scale. Childbirth also seemed to reduce the severity of symptoms, but this result was limited by the fact that very few women had given birth between the ages of 19 and 24.

Worse symptoms among young women
The researchers also found that in the youngest group (those born in 1982), more women reported suffering from painful periods, and the severity of the symptoms was worse.
“We are unsure why this is,” said Dr Lindh. “It may be due to changes in the type of oral contraceptive used, for example, differences in oestrogen content and progestogen type, or a different appreciation of pain in the women born in later years, in that they may be more pain sensitive or are more prepared to complain about pain than women of the same age but born earlier.”

Billions of dollars in lost productivity
Dysmenorrhoea has been estimated to account for 600 million lost working hours and two billion dollars in lost productivity in the USA. Dr Lindh said: “Painful periods occurs frequently, particularly in young women where as many as 50-75% suffer from dysmenorrhoea. It can have a detrimental effect on these women’s lives, causing regular absenteeism from school and work, and interfering with their daily activities for several days each month. Therefore effective management of dysmenorrhoea is beneficial for both the women affected and society.
“Information about the effects of COC use on painful periods should be included in contraceptive counselling, as it has been shown that women who experience a beneficial effect of COCs other than contraception, such as a reduction in dysmenorrhoea, are more likely to continue with the pill.”

Call for controlled trial
At present, the combined oral contraceptive pill is approved for contraception by regulatory authorities such as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and they would require a randomised controlled trial to in order to include dysmenorrhoea treatment as another indication for COC use, although some doctors already prescribe it “off-label” to help with painful periods.
Dr Lindh said: “We are aware that drug companies have discussed with the authorities the possible design of a randomised controlled trial for the evaluation of COCs in the treatment of dysmenorrhoea but this has not yet been finalised or performed. However, our study has clearly indicated a beneficial influence of COCs on the prevalence and severity of dysmenorrhoea and the absence of a randomised controlled trial confirming this in no way reduces the value of this information.”

For more information, please contact: Krister Svahn
E-mail: krister.svahn@sahlgrenska.gu.se
Telephone: +4631 786 38 69


Bibliographic data
Title: The effect of combined oral contraceptives and age on dysmenorrhoea: an epidemiological study
Authors: Ingela Lindh, Agneta Andersson Ellström and Ian Milsom
Journal: Human Reproduction journal on January 18.

Helena Aaberg | idw
Further information:
http://www.gu.se

Further reports about: Human Reproduction Human vaccine Reproduction VAS VMS contraceptive pill

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Discovery of a Key Regulatory Gene in Cardiac Valve Formation
24.05.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Carcinogenic soot particles from GDI engines
24.05.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Devils Hole: Ancient Traces of Climate History

24.05.2017 | Earth Sciences

Discovery of a Key Regulatory Gene in Cardiac Valve Formation

24.05.2017 | Life Sciences

A CLOUD of possibilities: Finding new therapies by combining drugs

24.05.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>