Yamanouchi Pharmaceutical Co Ltd and Nihon Schering announce Japan's first low-dose contraceptive pill.
Evidence shows that the Pill relieves symptoms of painful menstrual periods, a study has found.

Scientists have provided evidence that the contraceptive pill relieved the symptoms of painful menstrual periods.

According to a 30-year-long study, researchers found that the Pill drastically alleviated symptoms in a third of young women.

Up to half of women suffer from menstrual cramps, known as dysmenorrhoea, and for some the pain is so severe it causes vomiting and fainting.

The study, conducted by Sweden's Gothenburg University, surveyed 1,400 Swedish women aged 19 to 24 on levels of pain experienced from menstrual periods and found that the Pill reduced pain by at least one point on a ten-point scale.

In some instances women who previously had pain so acute they had to take time off work were able to go about their daily habits as per normal - although with the aid of painkillers.

Pain associated with menstrual periods is caused by hormones called prostaglandins, produced by the lining of the womb to make it contract.

But Dr Ingela Lindh, who led the study, believes that the Pill stops the production of these hormones, thereby reducing the cramps.

The research, published in the journal Human Reproduction, examined three independent groups of women who were surveyed at the age of 19 and again when they were 24.

All participants supplied details on their pain, whether they used the contraceptive pill as well as other basic details such as age, height and weight.

"By comparing women at different ages, it was possible to demonstrate the influence of contraceptive pills on the occurrence and severity of dysmenorrhoea, at the same time taking into account possible changes due to increasing age," said Dr Lindh.

"We found there was a significant difference in the severity of dysmenorrhoea depending on whether or not the women used combined oral contraceptives."

Dr Lindh said it was good for women to know about some of the benefits of the contraceptive pill.

"Information about the effects of its use on painful periods should be included in contraceptive counselling, as it has been shown that women who experience a beneficial effect of [the Pill] other than contraception, such as a reduction in dysmenorrhoea, are more likely to continue with the Pill," she said.