Many people take birth control to regulate their menstrual cycle and/or prevent pregnancy. But a new study shows the little miracle pill may do people who take it another solid: prevent serious knee injuries.
The study: Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston analyzed a decade of prescription and insurance information of 23,428 women ages 15-19 to find out if there was a correlation between needing reconstructive surgery on their ACL and taking birth control.
The people who had undergone ACL surgery were 18% less likely to be on birth control, which suggests oral contraceptives could have a positive influence on preventing knee injury for that age group.
"The use of oral contraceptives potentially modifies anterior cruciate ligament injury risk in young women," the study concluded. "These data suggest that women ages 15–19 years undergoing ACL reconstruction used oral contraceptives at a lower rate than the general population."
How birth control does it: People with uteruses are 1.5 to two times more likely than those without to tear their ACL. A previous study found that people with uteruses are most likely to tear their ACL during the last few days of their period, when estrogen levels are at their highest.
That data speaks to why birth control can help prevent ACL injury. "Birth control pills help maintain lower and more consistent levels of estrogen, which may prevent periodic ACL weakness," Gray wrote. "With this in mind, we examined whether oral contraceptive use protected against ACL injuries that require surgery."