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Do Birth Control Pills Help Cramps?

Do Birth Control Pills Help Cramps?


Studies are consistently revealing the fact that birth control in certain forms does a lot more for a woman’s health than inhibit her ability to become pregnant.  The evidence reveals that birth control has the ability to ease the pain that comes in the form of cramping when a woman is experiencing menstruation.  In addition to this positive side effect, birth control has been prescribed to teenagers to regulate irregular menstrual cycles, treat acne, and supplement hormone replacement therapy.

Understanding the Painful Impact

In an oral form, birth control has been shown to significantly decrease pain and bloating in women.  This conclusion was made possible by a 30-year study of women in Sweden who were taking the medication on a regular basis.  The need for such relief is evident when one looks at the numbers related to the effects of pain that occur during menstruation.  It is estimated that 15 percent of women in the United States experience pain that is severe enough to cause them to miss work or school.  When economists got their hands on this number, they estimated that the loss in productivity was close to $2 billion.

Solid Numbers

Prior to this study, there was only anecdotal evidence to confirm that there is a real link between the contraception and menstrual pain.  The difficulty that was resolved in the new study eliminated the factor of age.  As women grow older, the pain that they experience during their menstrual cycle decreases.  The reduction in pain is significant as well when birth control is present.  Women rated their pain based on predefined scales.  For one in three women, their average pain went from severe to moderate.  They were also able to reduce the amount of over-the-counter medication that they consumed during menstruation.  The study was conducted under the supervision of Dr. Ingela Lindh of Gothenberg University with the funding of non-industry sources such as pharmaceutical companies.  The results were subsequently published in the journal Human Reproduction.

Taking the Pain Away

With the results now widely confirmed, it is likely that there will be a dramatic rise in the prescribing of oral, estrogen-based birth control for women and teens suffering during menstruation.  One condition common to teenage girls in which this medicine is already prescribed in large amounts is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).  This condition causes a hormone imbalance that leads to irregular menstruation periods and severe pain when they do occur.  The birth control is also used to replace estrogen in the treatment of other conditions that can cause pain that is related to menstruation.  Such conditions include situations where there has been damage to the ovaries during cancer treatments or anorexia nervosa.


Sources: 7/16/2013

Birth Control Pills Provide Real Relief from Menstrual Pain

Boston Children’s Hospital-Center for Young Women’s Health
Birth Control Pills and Teens: A Guide for Parents

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