In a research co headed by Jill Buyon, M.D., of New York's Hospital for Joint Diseases said that oral contraceptives can be given to women with inactive or stable Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and they would not show symptoms of increased risk of flares of the disease.
This research was funded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In this disease the body fails to recognize as self and starts to attack its own tissues of the skin, joints and other internal organs.
Initially clinicians are very hesitant to give contraceptive pills (orally) to the patients with SLE because of the fear that they might show increased and unwanted disease activity.
This study which included 183 women with inactive or stable SLE were given oral contraceptives (triphasic 35 ĩg.ethinylestradiol/0.5-1 mg norethindrone for twelve 28-day cycles).they did not show any difference in reaction when compared to the controls who were given placebo.
Seven percent of the women showed severe reaction in both the test as well as in control categories. They suffered from various symptoms like new or worsening central nervous system involvement; inflammation of the blood vessels (vasculitis), kidneys (nephritis) and/or muscles (myositis); and/or blood problems, low platelet count (thrombocytopenia) and complete destruction of the red blood cells (hemolytic anemia).
Moderate reactions were seen in both the categories over the one year follow up session which includes fevers, inflammation of the skin, joints, pericarditis, and mucous membranes lining the nose and mouth.
This disease is very common among women. The ratio of women to men suffering from this disease is 10:1. Women usually suffer during the child bearing age when the female hormones are at its peak.
When experiments were conducted with mouse with SLE they showed increased reaction when administered with estrogen. They also affected the B cells which plays a vital role in the disease process.
According to this study it is clearly seen that women suffering with inactive or stable SLE can take estrogen without any fear of increased reaction due to the disease. But on the other hand women suffering from a risk of blood clots are not supposed to take oral contraceptives as estrogen increases blood clot formation.
Hence in conclusion this study has improved the quality of the life of people with rheumatic disease.