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 Europes 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.
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 re
|Contact: Krister Svahn|
University of Gothenburg