Previous scientific studies have suggested that women who use a copper IUD for contraception suffer from worse period pain, but a study at the University of Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska Academy that followed 2,100 women over a 30-year period shows that this is not the case.
In the study, 19-year-olds born in 1962, 1972 and 1982 were asked questions about their height, weight, pregnancies, children, period pain and contraception.
The latest results, published in the leading journal Human Reproduction, reveal that women who use a copper IUD do not suffer from worse period pain than women who use other non-hormonal contraceptives (such as condoms) or no contraception at all, while women who use a hormonal IUD or the combined pill and those who have given birth experience milder period pain.
“Research into period pain is sorely needed,” says researcher Ingela Lindh from the Sahlgrenska Academy. “Lowering the number of women who suffer from period pain will bring down absence from work and school and reduce the consumption of painkillers.”
Lindh says the new study provides new and valuable information about when an IUD should be considered, for both medical professionals and users:
“Women often have incorrect information about how different forms of contraception affect period pain.”
The article The influence of intrauterine contraception on the prevalence and severity of dysmenorrhea: a longitudinal population study was published in Human Reproduction on 11 April 2013.
An estimated 50-75% of all women suffer from period pain, or dysmenorrhoea. It generally takes the form of cramp-like abdominal pain, sometimes together with nausea and even vomiting, and is caused by muscle contractions in the womb which cut off the blood supply. These contractions are induced by hormones released from the lining of the womb during menstruation.
Period pain is normally treated with painkillers containing ibuprofen, and can also be alleviated by applying heat (heat pad etc) and, in some cases, acupuncture.