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Does Birth Control Help With Cramps?

Birth control pills are generally used to prevent the pregnancy. However, the mechanism of action of these medicines is such that it helps reducing the menstrual cramps by reducing the concentration of prostaglandins.

Does Birth Control Help With Cramps?

Does Birth Control Help With Cramps?

Birth control pills are the pills administered for prevention of pregnancy. These pills contain the synthetic hormone. These pills generally contain the combination of hormones.[1] The hormones present in the birth control pills works through two modes of action:

  1. Inhibiting Ovulation: Ovulation is the release of the egg from the ovary. This egg should get fertilized by the sperm to achieve pregnancy. These birth control pills inhibit ovulation thereby eliminating the chances of pregnancy. The ovulation is inhibited by chancing in the concentration of hormones required for ovulation.
  2. Thick Cervical Mucus: The sperm has to pass through the cervical mucus in order to get fused with the egg and to achieve pregnancy. In normal conditions, the cervical mucus is thin enough to allow the sperm to pass through it. However, birth control pills increase the viscosity of the cervical mucus, thus creating the hostile environment that does not allow or reduces sperm motility.[2]

Mechanism Of Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills contain synthetic hormones and usually have combination of hormones. There is a synthesis of prostaglandins in the uterus which increases the incidences of muscle cramps during menstrual cycle. Prostaglandin causes cramps by uterine muscle contraction. The severity of the muscle cramp depends upon the concentration of prostaglandin secreted by the uterus.[3] Birth control pills reduces the amount of prostaglandin secreted by the uterus, thus causes a reduction in muscle cramps. Studies concluded that birth control pills taken for 21 days with a rest period of 7 days effectively manages the muscle spasm.

Cause Of Muscle Cramps

Menstrual cramp is the symptoms of menstrual cycle. The muscle cramp may also be experienced 2-3 days prior to menstrual cycle and the condition is known as pre-menstrual syndrome. Generally, the muscle cramps are caused due to the shedding of uterine lining, but in some cases, severe cramps are due to underlying serious diseases.[4] Those diseases should be diagnosed, and proper treatment should be provided. Following are the reasons for menstrual cramps:

  1. Menstrual Cycle: Every month, the lining of uterus is formed which is prepared providing site for adhering the zygote. When the zygote is not impregnated in the uterine lining, due to hormonal changes, this uterine lining sheds. This shedding causes inflammation and the condition is marked by the presence of inflammatory mediators.[5] These inflammatory mediators cause muscle ischemia, leading to muscle spasm.
  2. Endometriosis: In this condition, the cells of the uterus grow in the area other than the uterus. The area of extrauterine growth may include fallopian tube or ovary.[6] This results in the pain and bleeding from these linings leading to pain and muscle cramps.
  3. Uterine Fibroids: Uterine fibroids are the non-cancerous and benign lumps that grows inside the uterus. These are the smooth muscle tumors and the condition may cause muscle spasm, heavy bleeding, painful sex and frequent urination.
  4. Adenomyosis: This condition is characterized by the presence of endometrium inside the muscular walls of the uterus known as myometrium. This condition is caused when the barrier between the endometrium and myometrium gets breached due to reasons such as surgery. The condition may cause symptoms such as heavy bleeding, painful menstruation with cramps, painful intercourse and pelvic pain.[7]
  5. Cervical Stenosis: Cervical stenosis is defined as the condition in wherein the space in the cervical region is narrow and the menstrual flow does not occur easily. Cervical stenosis may cause muscle cramps and infertility as it will prevent the flow of semen.[8]

  6. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: It is the condition which is characterized by the presence of infection in the female reproductive system. This condition causes menstrual cramps during menstrual cycle.[9]


Prostaglandins are secreted by the uterus which causes muscle contraction leading to cramps. The severity of cramps id directly related to the amount of prostaglandin secreted. Birth control pills reduce the amount of prostaglandin secreted by uterus.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 10, 2022

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