Permanent birth control ingestion eases menstrual pain – but at what cost?

Posted on Aug 24, 2012 in Health & Wellness

According to a study conducted by researchers at Penn State College of Medicine, women who take oral contraceptives continuously experience earlier pain relief from moderate to severe menstrual cramps – dysmenorrhea. The study is published in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dysmenorrhea happens during menstruation – it is caused by abnormal uterine contractions, sensitivity to pain and additional pressure in the pelvic region. It is usually followed by feeling sick, vomiting, diarrhea, headache and fatigue.

Dr. Richard Legro, professor of obstetrics and gynecology explained:

“Between 50 and 90 percent of women suffer from this condition, and it can really limit work, school, or athletic performance. Previous studies have estimated that dysmenorrhea accounts for 600 million lost work hours and $2 billion annually.”

In this study, participants experienced unexplained menstrual pain. Their pain was not due to earlier surgeries, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, or any other pelvic or bowel diseases.

Legro said:

“Oral contraceptives are often prescribed to treat this condition, since reducing menstruation is a relatively straightforward way to relieve this cramping. However, we wanted to determine whether there was a measurable difference between cyclic and continuous oral contraceptive treatment methods.”

Cyclic treatment with oral contraceptives imitate a woman’s natural cycle by stopping menstruation for a 3 week period, then stopping the tablets for the following week so that bleeding can take place. The continuous method 4 weeks of active contraception, without any break for menstruation.

According to the researchers, women in both groups experienced a considerable reduction in pain after 6 months of assessment. However, those using the constant birth control treatment reported considerable pain alleviation earlier as a result of uninterrupted nature of treatment.

Even though there is hardly any difference in the structure of these two approaches — just the duration they’re taken — there are various negative effects with each. Individuals should seek advice from their doctor prior to making any kind of changes to their regimen, as additional studies are required in order to figure out the risk-to-benefit ratio of prolonged use of continuous contraception for treatment of primary dysmenorrhea.

Written by Grace Rattue
Copyright: Medical News Today