Combined oral contraceptive use in rheumatoid arthritis for the purpose of pregnancy prevention and additional benefits: A narrative review

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Combined oral contraceptives are a common method of contraception and many females prefer them regardless of their medical history. The use in patients with rheumatoid and autoimmune disorders has not been extensively studied with previous reviews focusing on the safety component. This review seeks to address the effectiveness and benefits of utilizing combined oral contraceptives in females with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Current literature regarding combined oral contraceptives was surveyed for its use in RA and two PubMed searches were conducted, yielding 202 and 142 results, respectively. Results were screened and analyzed for relevance to this review topic. Eighteen results, consisting of clinical trials, observational studies, patient cases, and meta-analyses were used in this narrative review. Historically, it was thought that females with an autoimmune disorder such as RA need to be on contraception due to the teratogenicity potential with disease-modifying therapy but no evidence exists about which type of contraception is the most effective and least interacting. Current evidence available shows no preference for types of contraception in this population, but it has been demonstrated that combination oral contraceptives may provide contraceptive benefits and have a potential for other benefits such as less disability and the prevention of disease progression. Although current evidence provides reasoning to believe combination oral contraceptives are safe and efficacious in patients with RA and may even offer additional benefits, further studies and clinical trials are needed to completely understand the role combination oral contraceptives play in this patient population.


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