Study Shows Newer Birth Control Pills Linked To Higher Risk Of Blood Clots
A new study published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal adds to the growing pile of evidence that suggests newer types of oral birth control pills carry increased risk of blood clotting and may not be safe for certain groups of women.
The study, which followed 329,995 women in Israel, found that the risk of blood clots may be more than 40 percent higher for women who take birth control pills containing drosperinone, more commonly known as Yas, Yasmin, Ocella, Safyral, Syeda, Zarah, Beyaz, Gianvi, and Loryna.
Researchers found that the women who took drospirenone-containing birth control had a higher risk of blood clots, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism than women who took other kinds of birth control, with the highest risk coming in the first few months of use.
It has already been well documented in the medical community that women on the Pill have a small, albeit higher-than-average risk of blood clots.
For every 10,000 women who become pregnant in a year, about 20 will develop venous blood clots, compared with six women per 10,000 among Pill users overall and three in 10,000 women who are not on the pill.
"It's important to remember that all oral contraceptives are associated with a risk of blood clots," Dr. Susan Solymoss of McGill University explained in an editorial published with the study.
In addition to suggesting that women considering their birth control options have an "open discussion" with their doctor on the risks and benefits of various contraceptives, Solymoss said a key component to consider is whether you have "other risk factors for blood clots, like obesity or high blood pressure, and if so, to avoid the Pill formulation with the highest clot risk."
Age is another risk factor, with the risk of blood clot gradually increasing after the age of 25. In fact, women who are older than 35 and smoke—another clot risk factor—are already advised to avoid birth control pills in general.
But with further research still being conducted, it's important to keep things in perspective. Avoiding birth control pills altogether is an option, although other contraceptives may not be as effective at preventing pregnancy. "And pregnancy is a bigger risk for blood clots," Dr. Solymoss pointed out.
And for women who have already been using Yaz or related pills without a problem, there may be little reason to switch.
"A woman already on drospirenone for four months probably shouldn't be more worried than if she (were on) another second- or third-generation contraceptive."
Instead she urges women not to panic or quit their contraceptives, but simply have a discussion with their Women's HealthFirst doctor about their individual circumstances, lifestyle and medical and family history to determine the best course of action for them.
[image via iStock]