Can Oral Contraceptives Reduce The Risk of Chronic Pain?


13155847_SAuthor’s note: I hesitated publishing this piece because I myself don’t take BC pills given the Hashimoto’s and how the pill interacts with your thyroid. But in the spirit of more information is better, I give you the below… and as always, it’s a decision between you and your health care team. So, with that perspective… read away!

Ever been a murder mystery party? You and your friends sit around, eat food, and try to figure out who was murdered and why. These harmless, guilty pleasures can be an absolute hoot with the right crowd. But when you think of chronic pain and the mysteries surrounding why some of us have it, it’s clear that not all mysteries are fun. In fact, some mysteries can be very painful.

Easily one of the most frustrating parts of chronic pain is that you don’t always know the cause. There are still so many questions researchers have about autoimmune diseases. We can’t always explain why we have a certain disease. With some chronic pain cases, we may have a lot more questions than answers. And this mystery isn’t something that will be figured out in a night. In fact, it may be a long time before researchers have a full grasp on some diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Since there is so much mystery surrounding diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, there are many researchers out there constantly searching for answers. One interesting study recently looked specifically at oral contraceptives and how they may actually reduce the risk of getting rheumatoid arthritis. If you’re interested at uncovering the mysteries surrounding chronic pain, this study may be worth looking into.

A study that shows some oral contraceptives may reduce the risk of having chronic pain

The study in question is a Swedish epidemiological investigation of rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers looked at more than 2,000 women who have the disease and used more than 4,000 women who didn’t have any kind of rheumatoid arthritis, as controls. All of the subjects took an extensive questionnaire about the health, lifestyle, disease and oral contraceptives. The study also looked at if breastfeeding plays a role in developing rheumatoid arthritis.

Why this particular link between Rheumatoid Arthritis and oral contraceptives?

Researchers have noticed a link between chronic pain and women. They’ve come to question whether or not hormones, such as those in oral contraceptives or breastfeeding, can play a role.

According to their report, “Rheumatoid Arthritis is among the most common autoimmune diseases, with a complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors involved in its aetiology. Since the disease is two to three times more common among women as compared with men, it has been suggested that hormonal and reproductive factors might partly explain this sex difference.”

It is interesting to think about why rheumatoid arthritis – and many, many more similar rheumatoid diseases and autoimmune diseases – seem to affect more women than men. It certainly creates a lot of questions about how women’s health, biological factors and even environmental situations, which can create the perfect storm for these diseases to develop. It also really makes us wonder if there are choices we can make that will influence our chances of developing these kinds of diseases.

So what did the study actually find?

Researchers did find that it those who had used oral contraceptives were less likely to have RA than those who had never taken any kind of oral contraceptive. But they couldn’t confirm that breastfeeding played any role in whether or not women had chronic pain.

While this is certainly interesting, it’s always important when talking about autoimmune diseases that you understand that one study can’t predict everyone’s future. We’re all different and we all have different genes, lifestyles and environments that can impact our chances of having chronic pain, or any other similar disease. This also definitely doesn’t mean that if you take birth control, you for sure won’t ever have rheumatoid arthritis.

Oral contraceptives should not be used as a preventative measure. In fact, the only thing these have an extremely high chance of preventing is a pregnancy. But until we discover more about these diseases, it’s important to know what researchers are finding.


About the Author
Katie Cleary is founder of  She lives with her autoimmune conditions and her family in Austin, Texas.

This post contains opinions of the author. is not a medical practice and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  It is your responsibility to seek diagnosis, treatment, and advice from qualified providers based on your condition and particular circumstances.  Camino Real Ventures, Inc., the company that makes available to you, does not endorse nor recommend any products, practices, treatment methods, tests, physicians, service providers, procedures, clinical trials, opinions or information available on this website.  Your use of the website is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy



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