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Blood clot risk higher in newer birth control pills, study finds
April 22nd, 2011
02:12 PM ET

Blood clot risk higher in newer birth control pills, study finds

Women who are using a newer version of birth control that contains the hormone drospirenone have a higher risk of serious blood clot, according to two studies published in the online version of the British Medical Journal.

Drospirenone is found in birth control pills such as Ocella, Yasmin and Yaz.

The studies found that drospirenone has two to three times more risk of blood clots compared with birth control pills containing an older form of a progestin hormone called levonorgestrel. Dr Susan Jick, lead authors said that these findings “provide further evidence that levonorgestrel pills appear to be a safer choice” pertaining to blood clots.

Drug makers dispute the findings, saying the studies are flawed.

The research, led in the U.S. by Jick from the Boston University School of Medicine, used information from United States medical claims data and a United Kingdom research database.

In the U.S., the study reported that in one year, there are 30.8 blood clots per 100,000 women using the birth control containing drospirenone.  That rate was lower with 12.5 blood clots for the older birth control pills using levonorgestrel.

"What’s important is that the risk is quite low," Jick said. "30 in 100,000 women is not very many blood clots. It is not that common, but it does happen more in drospirenone than levonorgestrel."

In the U.K., the yearly rates for blood clots were 23 clots per 100,000 women using the drospirenone pill and 9.1 for levonorgestrel.

"There is a risk no matter which oral contraceptive you choose to take," Jick said.  "The risk appears higher in drospirenone, than levonorgesterel.  Users should just be aware when they’re making a choice that there is a higher risk than the other."

Bayer, the maker of Yaz, challenged the study's methodology and the databases used,  saying that they “provide less reliable conclusions than are available from existing scientific evidence.”

“Given the already large and robust scientific body of evidence, in Bayer's opinion, these studies do not change the overall assessment about the safety of Bayer's oral contraceptives.”  The company said that the blood clot risk of using contraceptives that contain drospirenone is the same as those in the older birth control pills.

According to Bloomberg News,  6,850 lawsuits  were pending in the U.S. as of February 1 over alleged injuries and deaths as a result of the use of Yasmin, Yaz, or generic versions of the drugs.

Physicians cautioned against making knee-jerk reactions to the findings:

- Dr. Jill Rabin, chief of ambulatory care, obstetrics and gynecology at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York told WebMD, “These are strong studies, but they will not change the way I practice except that this information will be part of my conversation with patients,”

- André Lalonde, vice-president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, cautioned against jumping to conclusions. In the Globe and Mail, he said: “Each time a new product comes out, we see this – it’s the new pill effect. Risks and complications are always greatest in new patients, much higher than those who have used the same product for a long time."


soundoff (161 Responses)
  1. AGuest9

    What needs to start happening in this country is to provide sterilization as a viable birth control method. The world is over-populated as it is, and so many welfare-collecting, beer-guzzling, Jerry Springer-watching couch potatoes are simply resulting in the country being handed over lock-stock-and-barrel to the Asians. If you can't learn yourself, why bring little ones into the world that you aren't going to teach any different?

    April 24, 2011 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ituri

      Yup, nothing like eugenics and mass sterilization to make a "healthier" society. Heck, the Chinese took the advice seriously. Forced sterilization of rural women is commonplace. Whats a few ubductions and forced surguries on women in substandard surgical environments if it means the nasty little asians won't have control, right?

      Its not like people have RIGHTS, or that poverty is a CYCLICAL pattern thats nearly impossible to escape in a dog-eat-dog consumer-driven society.

      April 24, 2011 at 14:27 | Report abuse |
    • Iruti

      So you think you have rights Ituri? That's cute.

      April 24, 2011 at 19:46 | Report abuse |
    • AGuest9

      You are right, it IS cyclical – that's exactly why there are fourth-generation welfare recipients being born in this country EVERY DAY. That doesn't count the anchor babies dumped off in the southwest.

      April 24, 2011 at 21:04 | Report abuse |
    • LRoy

      So what. Any form of artificial birth control is still a very grave sin. You are putting yourself first, before anyone else. You are denying the gift of a child that only God can provide.

      April 24, 2011 at 23:30 | Report abuse |
    • Claire

      I never had an issue with taking the Pill or felt that I was more lkiely for a blood clot b/c of it. However, after the birth of my daughter and I went back on my old BC my legs felt “puffy” or like I did the day after the csection when I was retaining water. Like a good little solider I finished that pack but stopped taking them after that I was worried it might have had something to do with clotting, it was kinda like a tightness feeling in my legs as if they were swollen? Anyway, hubby is aware I’m not taking anything and we just try to prevent pregnancy with other methods, we definitely want more children but when DD is only just 7mths old we feel it wise to wait.

      April 8, 2012 at 16:08 | Report abuse |
  2. Tess

    There is an age requirement for sterilization. A person usually has to be over thirty to have the procedure done. This is applied strictly in Canada. For example to a 20 something-year old male – REFUSED PROCEDURE. This despite his three children and agreement from wife that the procedure was the ideal thing. I do not know why a person can opt for abortion or to take a pill with a risk of stroke and zero disease protection but cannot choose sterilization themselves.

    April 24, 2011 at 20:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Golden

      Its because in Canada our population is declining, hence all the immigration. Therefore I think people should have as many kids as they want, provided they can provide for them.

      May 1, 2011 at 14:15 | Report abuse |
    • Rosa

      In High School, I had very painful Ovarian Cysts and was put on the pill. Never had a poerlbm for 11 years. came off it to get pregnant. Stayed off for 6 years then started having super heavy periods. Was put on what the OBGyn called a strong' pill to control the flow and 2 months later ended up in the hospital with blood clots in my lungs. Couple of years on blood thinners and I will never take the pill again.

      April 8, 2012 at 16:49 | Report abuse |
  3. Tige

    This is very serious and is on the rise in women. Not 3 weeks after my girlfriend (21years old) switched from the depot shots to Yaz, she developed a DVT in her arm. The DVT started in her shoulder area which felt like a stabbing/burning feeling and went down into her arm where it then trailed off into the 3 large veins and into her forearm. Her arm swelled twice its normal size and she developed blisters becuase the skin was stretched so tight. There aren;t very many treatments for DVTs other than warfarin/coumadine and just basically blood thinners. I can't put everything in one post since she was in the hospital for 11 days and is still on treament today, this happened 2nd week of March 2011.

    May 4, 2011 at 21:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Beanle

    They refer to this as a new drug, but I have been taking it for at least three years, maybe four. I did have a scare a couple of years ago when I thought I possibly had a clot in my leg, but an ultrasound showed nothing. Why are they just now saying this type of birth control is so dangerous? This is information I would have appreciated having years ago.

    December 8, 2011 at 08:03 | Report abuse | Reply
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      April 9, 2012 at 03:46 | Report abuse |
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