By Alexandra Thompson Senior Health Reporter For Mailonline
Published: 10:29 BST, 3 May 2019 | Updated: 10:31 BST, 3 May 2019
A single knee injury can stop an athlete's career in its tracks.
But new research suggests sportswomen could avoid tears to the joint by taking the Pill.
Female athletes are up to 63 per cent less likely to have an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear if they take the combined oral pill, a study found.
The ACL connects the thighbone to the shin and helps stabilise the knee joint, and a tear can prove career-ending.
Sportswomen could avoid knee injuries by taking the combined oral contraceptive pill (stock)
The Pill is often made up of a combination of oestrogen and progesterone, which 'downregulates hormones, thus limiting hormonal fluctuations', researchers wrote.
Scientists say the ACL contains oestrogen receptors, which have been shown to increase 'ligament laxity', or looseness.
The research was carried out by Brown University and led by Dr Steven DeFroda, of the department of orthopaedic surgery.
ACL tears are common among young athletes, with 200,000 injuries occurring every year in the US. The injury's prevalence in the UK is unknown.
More than half of cases occur in secondary-school students, with the risk increasing by 2.3 per cent every year for children between six and 18.
Of those who suffer an ACL injury, 45 per cent never compete again, 35 per cent do not meet their previous level of athleticism and up to half show signs of osteoarthritis just a decade later.
An ACL injury is a tear or sprain in the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
The injury usually occurs during sport that involves sudden stops, change in direction, and jumping and landing, such as football or basketball.
ACL tears are common among young athletes, with 200,000 injuries occurring every year in the US, according to the journal The Physician and Sports medicine.
The injury's prevalence in the UK is unknown.
Many people hear a 'pop' coming from their knee when the injury occurs.
Other symptoms may include:Severe pain and an inability to move the joint Rapid swelling Feeling of instability or 'giving way' with weight bearing