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 A new view of microscopic interactions
01.07.2020 | University of Missouri-Columbia

nachricht Microscope allows gentle, continuous imaging of light-sensitive corals
01.07.2020 | Marine Biological Laboratory

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: ILA Goes Digital – Automation & Production Technology for Adaptable Aircraft Production

Live event – July 1, 2020 - 11:00 to 11:45 (CET)
"Automation in Aerospace Industry @ Fraunhofer IFAM"

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM l Stade is presenting its forward-looking R&D portfolio for the first time at...

Im Focus: AI monitoring of laser welding processes - X-ray vision and eavesdropping ensure quality

With an X-ray experiment at the European Synchrotron ESRF in Grenoble (France), Empa researchers were able to demonstrate how well their real-time acoustic monitoring of laser weld seams works. With almost 90 percent reliability, they detected the formation of unwanted pores that impair the quality of weld seams. Thanks to a special evaluation method based on artificial intelligence (AI), the detection process is completed in just 70 milliseconds.

Laser welding is a process suitable for joining metals and thermoplastics. It has become particularly well established in highly automated production, for...

Im Focus: A structural light switch for magnetism

A research team from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure of Dynamics (MPSD) and the University of Oxford has managed to drive a prototypical antiferromagnet into a new magnetic state using terahertz frequency light. Their groundbreaking method produced an effect orders of magnitude larger than previously achieved, and on ultrafast time scales. The team’s work has just been published in Nature Physics.

Magnetic materials have been a mainstay in computing technology due to their ability to permanently store information in their magnetic state. Current...

Im Focus: Virtually Captured

Biomechanical analyses and computer simulations reveal the Venus flytrap snapping mechanisms

The Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) takes only 100 milliseconds to trap its prey. Once their leaves, which have been transformed into snap traps, have...

Im Focus: NASA observes large Saharan dust plume over Atlantic ocean

NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite observed a huge Saharan dust plume streaming over the North Atlantic Ocean, beginning on June 13. Satellite data showed the dust had spread over 2,000 miles.

At NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, Colin Seftor, an atmospheric scientist, created an animation of the dust and aerosols from the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium AWK'21 will take place on June 10 and 11, 2021

07.04.2020 | Event News

International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen Postponed by a Year

06.04.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

First exposed planetary core discovered

01.07.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Energy-saving servers: Data storage 2.0

01.07.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Laser takes pictures of electrons in crystals

01.07.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>