PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CBSNewYork) – A new study finds birth control pills may provide a surprising added benefit for female athletes – protection against serious sports injuries.

Researchers at Brown University found that women taking oral contraceptives were significantly less likely to have knee injuries.

The study pointed to lower and more stable hormone levels, caused by the pill, for keeping ligaments firmer.

“It’s likely that oral contraceptives help maintain lower and more consistent levels of estrogen and progesterone,” lead researcher Dr. Steven DeFroda said in a statement.

The study, published in the journal The Physician and Sportsmedicine, looked at over 165,000 women and girls ages 15 to 49.

Brown researchers found that teens between 15 and 19 were 63 percent less likely to suffer an ACL injury while taking the pill.

In total, women on birth control were 18 percent less likely to need knee reconstruction surgery, compared to other groups.

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