Oral Contraceptives Beneficial in Inflammatory Polyarthritis

Women using OC before or during polyarthritis symptom onset have improved functional outcome

MONDAY, Aug. 8 (HealthDay News) -- In women with inflammatory polyarthritis (IP), use of oral contraceptives (OCs) before or during symptom onset is associated with beneficial functional outcome, according to a study published in the August issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Elizabeth M. Camacho, from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, and colleagues investigated the functional outcomes of OC use in women with IP who were recruited to the Norfolk Arthritis Register from 1994 to 2004. During a median follow-up of 4.9 years, patient-reported history for OC use was assessed for 663 women, born after 1945, who had not used OCs, and 265 women younger than 50 years, who had used OC and had not undergone menopause or hysterectomy. After adjustments for age at symptom onset, functional ability was assessed using the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ).

The investigators found that, compared to patients who had not taken OCs before symptom onset, patients who had used OCs before symptom onset had lower HAQ scores (difference in score at five-year follow-up, −0.35) throughout follow-up. Lower HAQ scores were found in patients who were taking OCs at baseline compared to those who were not taking them at baseline but had taken them earlier (mean difference, −0.21). OC use during follow-up correlated with lower HAQ scores over time compared to no OC use during follow-up (mean difference, −0.06), but this correlation was significant only in women with moderate or severe functional disability at the previous assessment (mean difference, −0.23). Further adjustments and exclusion of hormone replacement therapy users had little impact on the result.

"OC use is generally associated with a beneficial functional outcome in IP, and use before and at symptom onset appeared to have the most consistent benefit," the author writes.

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Physician’s Briefing Staff

Physician’s Briefing Staff

Published on August 08, 2011

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