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Are you suffering from painful periods, also known as dysmenorrhoea? The birth control pill may help you, according to a newly published study, which collected information about painful periods and the combined contraceptive pill for 30 years from hundreds of women.

The study was published in the journal Human Reproduction, and conducted by a group of researchers from Sahlgrenska Academy at Gothenburg University. The team followed three groups of women who were 19 years old when they signed up for participation. Some started in 1981, some in 1991, and the rest in 2001. The women took part in an initial questionnaire about period pains and the pill, and were contacted again five years later to see what, if anything, had changed.

The women who suffered from painful periods answered questions about how the combined estrogen/progesterone pill influenced their pain. In one out of three women, going on the pill made their pain decrease from "severe" to "moderate". So far, the birth control pill is not licensed as a drug to treat menstrual pains, but perhaps this study will change that? Many doctors do suggest trying the pill to their patients who have painful periods and don't want to get pregnant.

The study's lead author Dr Ingela Lindh said: "Painful periods occur frequently, particularly in young women where as many as 50 percent to 75 percent suffer from dysmenorrhea. 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. Effective management of dysmenorrhoea is beneficial for both the women affected and society."

If you suffer from painful and heavy periods as well, now may be the time to consult your doctor about taking the combined estrogen/progesterone birth control pill as a treatment for this. It may work for you, too.

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