Could some birth control pills raise your risk for a blood clot?
For many years now, birth control pills have given women freedom—freedom from fear of an unwanted pregnancy, and freedom from the heavy painful periods that keep them from enjoying every day activities. But now thanks to side effects, researchers are finding that some of the newer types of birth control pills may not be as liberating as originally thought as they raise the chance of developing a blood clot.
According to a study conducted in 2009, and recently re-evaluated in Europe, women who take a type of birth control pill that contains the hormone levonorgestrel were twice as likely to develop a DVT ( also known as a deep vein thrombosis or blood clot) than women who didn’t take any hormonal birth control. I know, it sounds like a mouthful to pronounce. DVT’s—also called a blood clot are a well-known risk of taking birth control and are more likely to occur in women who smoke and are over the age of 35 who continue the medication. In this particular study of 10,000 women who took an older form of birth control—one that has been around for several years—only 3.7 women out of that 10,000 developed a clot compared to 7.5 women who took the newer pills.
Watching for signs of a blood clot
So how do you know if you have a clot? Let me just say that you will certainly know that something is wrong, and it will send you looking for help. A blood clot will usually form in the leg—typically in the lower section known as the calf and can cause the limb to swell, get red and hot, and can be extremely painful. If a clot breaks loose and is free to move through the body’s blood stream it can land in other parts of the body causing injury. A stroke is one of the more serious side effects that can be triggered by a clot that lands in the brain.
Because every woman’s body is different, there is no guarantee that you will ever have symptoms from your pills. However, every woman should be aware of the risks and symptoms so that treatment can be found if you think you may be developing a clot. If you are over age 35 and a smoker it would be wise to consider a different type of birth control that doesn’t contain hormones. Perhaps you may prefer a long-term non-hormonal IUD, or a tubal ligation—if none of these fit the bill, perhaps the old stand- by of contraceptive foam and condoms would be more suited.
Not sure? Dr. Hessel is here to help. With an extensive background in contraception, Dr. Hessel will help you find the right method for you. It isn’t uncommon to try several types of birth control before you find one that works for you, and that can be a frustrating process. Enlist the help of a trusted, knowledgeable provider who can help you make sense of the mystery. Come see Dr. Hessel today.