BACKGROUND: Women have a higher risk of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears than men, the causes of which are multifactorial. The menstrual cycle and its hormonal effect on the knee may contribute to knee laxity and ACL injury. This work reviewed published studies examining the effects of the phases of the menstrual cycle on anterior knee laxity and the rate of ACL tears. METHODS: A systematic review with meta-analysis and meta-regression was performed. Studies with data comparing the menstrual cycle phase with ACL injury or anterior knee laxity were included for analysis. Data with regard to patient demographic characteristics, anterior knee laxity, ACL injury, and menstrual cycle phases were extracted from the included studies. RESULTS: In this study, 1,308 search results yielded 396 articles for review, of which 28 met inclusion criteria. Nineteen studies of knee laxity with 573 combined subjects demonstrated a mean increase in laxity (and standard deviation) of 0.40 ± 0.29 mm in the ovulatory phase compared with the follicular phase and a mean increase in laxity of 0.21 ± 0.21 mm in the luteal phase compared with the follicular phase. Nine studies examining ACL tears with 2,519 combined subjects demonstrated a decreased relative risk (RR) of an ACL tear in the luteal phase compared with the follicular and ovulatory phases combined (RR, 0.72 [95% confidence interval, 0.56 to 0.89]). There were no differences in ACL tear risk between any of the other phases. CONCLUSIONS: An increased risk of an ACL tear does not appear to be associated with periods of increased laxity in this meta-analysis. Although this suggests that hormonal effects on an ACL tear may not be directly related to increases in knee laxity, the methodologic heterogeneity between published studies limits the conclusions that can be drawn and warrants further investigation. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Prognostic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine