A prospective study was undertaken concerning the development of rheumatic complaints and altered serology in a group of women using oral contraceptives (o.c.) in comparison with a similar group of women using non-hormonal means of contraception. 215 women newly registered at a family-planning centre were seen at their first visit and at approximately 2, 8, 14, and 20 months. 115 of the women were followed for an average of 16 months. 80 of these women were using o.c. and 35 (non-o.c.) were employing other methods. Blood-samples taken at all visits and examined for antinuclear antibodies, L.E. cells, rheumatoid factor, hæmolytic complement level, and erythrocyte-sedimentation rate showed no evidence of altered serology in the o.c. or non-o.c. groups. None of the patients developed rheumatic complaints. The results obtained fail to demonstrate that normal women using o.c. are at a greater risk of developing rheumatic symptoms or serological changes than a similar group of non-users.
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