We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our site. Cookies are files stored in your browser and are used by most websites to help personalise your web experience.

By continuing to use our website without changing the settings, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more
For more information, go to

Is there a possible link between the contraceptive pill and rheumatoid arthritis?

Q) I would be very grateful for any information regarding the possible link between the contraceptive pill and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I have suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for nearly 40 years but it is relatively well-controlled with quadruple therapy including anti-TNF. I have two daughters in their 20s and I am very worried about the possibility of the contraceptive pill triggering RA. I read about this possible link over 35 years ago and immediately stopped taking the pill myself. Has any progress been made in research since then? I am very worried as both my daughters have recently started taking the pill. I feel terrible that I had not warned them of a possible risk.
Mrs June Butterfield , via email (Spring 2013)

A) There is a strong link between hormones and arthritis, and that includes both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Women, of course, have such dramatic surges (pregnancy) and ebbs (the menopause) in hormone concentrations and this may explain the common occurrence of arthritis starting after pregnancy and the menopause. And it may be linked to the fact that rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women than men. In fact it is now thought that taking the contraceptive pill may be protective against developing rheumatoid arthritis, although reports are conflicting. The use of oral contraceptives may also reduce the severity of rheumatoid arthritis once it has developed. So I would not spend time worrying about your daughters.


0800 5200 520

Our new helpline: Call us for free information, help and advice on your type of arthritis.

All calls are recorded for training and quality purposes

More Information Close
For more information, go to or call 0300 790 0400 to order the complete printed booklet.
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.