Well Being

Sex (Re)Ed: Newer Birth Control Pills Double Risk Of Blood Clots

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Sex  Re Ed  Newer Birth Control Pills Double Risk Of Blood Clots 114cc2c8 d32f 488a 8ab0 56aaf3701727 04 jpgThe pill has come a long way since your mom (or grandma) started taking it. But not all the changes have been good ones: A large new Danish study says newer generations of birth control pills double your risk of venous thromboembolism, blood clots that form deep in the veins of legs and arms and could break off and spread to the lungs. Blood clots are a well-known side effect of hormonal contraception. But shouldn’t our newer generation of birth control pills be less dangerous than those that came before?

Older-generation pills rely on a mix of estrogen and a synthetic progestin hormone called levonorgestrel. Third and fourth generation birth control pills—such as Yaz, Yasmin, Desogen, Ortho-Cept and Cyclessa—use estrogen and synthetic progestin hormones such as drospirenone, desogestrel, cyproterone acetate or gestodene.

Researchers found women taking newer birth control pills were twice as likely as those on older pills to get potentially dangerous blood clots, and six times more likely than women who’d never taken hormonal contraceptives.

The researchers looked at the medical records of almost 1.3 million women, 70% of whom had used hormonal contraceptives. In the total group, there were 4,307 cases of blood clots that required treatment over the 15-year period. Most of these (64%) were blood clots in the limbs. One-quarter were blood clots that spread to the lungs, and 2% caused strokes.

Even for women on newer birth control pills, the absolute risk of venous thromboembolism is relatively low: About 10 per 10,000 women. That’s only half as high as the risk of blood clots seen in women who are pregnant or have just had a baby.

But “consider that 200 million women, every day, worldwide take such a pill,” said Ojvind Lidegaard, an OB-GYN and professor who led the study.

… even if it’s only one in 500 per year who get the thrombosis if they are on a fourth-generation pill and are 30 years old, then you actually get a relatively high number of complications … and you could actually halve that number just by changing the pill from a fourth- to a second-generation pill.”

The FDA is currently ‘reviewing the safety’ of these later-generation birth control pills. In September, the agency posted a warning that drospirenone-containing birth-control pills pose about a 1.5-fold increase in blood clot risk.

Photo: Drugs.com