Does a relationship exist between the prevalence of anterior cruciate ligament injuries in females and the use of estrogen and progesterone containing contraception?

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Runge, Rebecca L.
Bunton, Patricia A.

Women’s involvement in athletics has increased in the last twenty years. With the increase in participation, there has also been an increase in injury rates. Female athletes are at a 4-8 times higher risk of sustaining an Anterior Cruciate Ligament Sprain (ACL) than male athletes. There have been a number of research studies looking at endogenous hormonal influence on ACL injuries, but there is little research looking at the correlation between contraceptive use and ACL injuries.

Purpose: This retrospective research study was conducted to determine if a correlation exists between prescription contraceptives and ACL injury rates in collegiate athletes.

Methodology: Two hundred and fifty surveys were sent to collegiate volleyball and basketball coaches for distribution to female athletes. The survey included questions about the athlete’s history of ACL injury and prescription contraceptive use. Results: There was a 10.4% response rate. Of the 26 responses, 34% of the athletes have not sustained an ACL injury while using prescription contraceptives for greater than 12 months.

Conclusion: No conclusion can be drawn concerning the relationship of prescription contraceptives and ACL injuries from the study due to a low response rate. Some research has shown an association between hormones and female ACL injuries; however, no definitive correlation has been proven.

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A project presented to the Department of Physician Assistant of Wichita State University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Physician Assistant.