The Use of Sex Hormones in Women With Rheumatological Diseases

Hong Kong Med J. 2011 Dec;17(6):487-91.


A number of rheumatological diseases predominantly affect women of reproductive age. There has always been concern that the use of oestrogen-containing agents such as combined hormonal contraception and hormone therapy might aggravate these conditions. This article reviews the up-to-date evidence regarding the safety of using these agents in women with various rheumatological diseases, with emphasis on systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis. In the absence of antiphospholipid antibody or other prothrombotic risk factors, combined hormonal contraception is not contra-indicated in most rheumatological conditions including inactive systemic lupus erythematosus. Moreover, hormone therapy is generally not contra-indicated except for women with active systemic lupus erythematosus disease where its effect on disease flare is less clear and individual judgement is required.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid*
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Combined*
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal*
  • Female
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic*


  • Contraceptives, Oral, Combined
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal