The not-so-secret dream of everyone who’s ever tried to shed extra weight is that they could do so just by popping a pill. The material in this site is intended to be of general informational use and is not intended to constitute medical advice, probable diagnosis, or recommended treatments. Taking oral contraceptives continuously, rather than as traditionally prescribed for each cycle, provides earlier relief for moderate to severe menstrual cramps – dysmenorrhea – according to researchers at Penn State College of Medicine. Dysmenorrhea occurs during menstruation, resulting from abnormal uterine contractions, increased sensitivity to pain, and added pressure in the pelvic area.
Participants in this study suffer from primary dysmenorrhea; their pain is not attributed to previous surgeries, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, or other pelvic or bowel diseases. Cyclic treatment with oral contraceptives mimic a woman’s natural cycle by preventing menstruation for 21 days, then stopping the pills for the next 7 so bleeding can occur; the continuous method consists of 28 days of active contraception, with no break for menstruation.

After six months of evaluation, both treatment groups experienced a significant reduction in menstrual pain – however, the group of women taking the continuous contraceptive treatment reported significant pain relief earlier due to the uninterrupted nature of treatment. Other researchers on this project are Romana Dmitrovic of the BetaPlus Center for Reproductive Medicine in Zagreb, Croatia, who was the lead clinical investigator and Allen R. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health funded this study.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an interview, please contact Scott Gilbert in the Office of Marketing and Communications at (717) 531-1887. See the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy (Your California Privacy Rights) for more information. While there is little to no difference in the composition of these two methods – only the time they’re taken – there are different side effects with each.

Kunselman, senior instructor, Department of Public Health Sciences, Penn State College of Medicine. Patients should consult their doctor before making any changes to their regimen, as further research is needed to determine the risk-to-benefit ratio of extended use of continuous contraception for treatment of primary dysmenorrhea.

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