Nav: Home

Why are women more prone to knee injuries than men?

March 18, 2016

Researchers from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have found that women who take the birth control pill, which lessen and stabilize estrogen levels, were less likely to suffer serious knee injuries. The findings are currently available in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Female athletes are 1.5 to 2 times more likely than their male counterparts to injure their anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. The ACL is a ligament that connects the top and bottom portions of the knee. Damage to this ligament is a serious athletic injury that can be career altering. Return-to-play rates after ACL injury are as low as 49 percent among soccer players. Also, this injury may lead to lifelong issues with knee instability, altered walking gait and early onset arthritis.

Using a national insurance claims and prescription database of 23,428 young women between 15 and 19, the study found that women with an ACL knee injury who were taking the birth control pill were less likely to need corrective surgery than women of the same age with ACL injuries who do not use the birth control pill.

Researchers have proposed that the female hormone estrogen makes women more vulnerable to ACL injury by weakening this ligament. A previous investigation found that more ACL injuries in women occur during the points of their menstrual cycle when estrogen levels are high.

"Birth control pills help maintain lower and more consistent levels of estrogen, which may prevent periodic ACL weakness," said lead author and M.D. - Ph.D. student Aaron Gray. "With this in mind, we examined whether oral contraceptive use protected against ACL injuries that require surgery in women."

Women between15-19 y in need of ACL reconstructive surgery, the age group with the highest rates of ACL injuries by a wide margin, were 22 percent less likely to be using the birth control pill than non-injured women of the same age.

Gray said that puberty might explain the high number of ACL injury cases in young women of this age. During puberty, there is a sharp rise in estrogen levels as well as growth spurts in the legs. Following one of these growth spurts, it takes time for the adolescent to develop good coordination with their newly elongated limbs.

"Young athletes currently use birth control pills for various reasons including more predictable cycles and lighter periods," Gray said. "Injury risk reduction could potentially be added to that list with further, prospective investigations."
-end-
Other authors include UTMB's Zbgniew Gugala and Jacques Baillargeon.

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

Related Estrogen Articles:

How estrogen modulates fear learning
Low estrogen levels may make women more susceptible to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), while high estrogen levels may be protective.
Estrogen signaling impacted immune response in cancer
New research from The Wistar Institute showed that estrogen signaling was responsible for immunosuppressive effects in the tumor microenvironment across cancer types.
Are drops in estrogen levels more rapid in women with migraine?
Researchers have long known that sex hormones such as estrogen play a role in migraine.
Estrogen-deficient female athletes' memory improves with estrogen
In young female athletes who stop having their menstrual periods because of excessive exercise, estrogen replacement appears to improve their memory, a new study finds.
Blood clot risk lower for estrogen-only, transdermal, and vaginal estrogen at menopause
A Swedish population study is helping answer lingering questions about hormone therapy safety.
More Estrogen News and Estrogen Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans
More than test scores or good grades — what do kids need to prepare them for the future? This hour, guest host Manoush Zomorodi and TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, in and out of the classroom. Guests include educators Olympia Della Flora and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#535 Superior
Apologies for the delay getting this week's episode out! A technical glitch slowed us down, but all is once again well. This week, we look at the often troubling intertwining of science and race: its long history, its ability to persist even during periods of disrepute, and the current forms it takes as it resurfaces, leveraging the internet and nationalism to buoy itself. We speak with Angela Saini, independent journalist and author of the new book "Superior: The Return of Race Science", about where race science went and how it's coming back.