This is a guest post on hormonal birth control written by an organization called Drugwatch.com, a site dedicated to informing you about dangerous prescription drugs and medical devices. If you are having issues with your hormonal birth control, take a look at the resources on this site.
With birth control these days, avoiding pregnancy isn’t the only issue. Avoiding complications such as blood clots and damaged organs is also a priority.
While every woman wants a birth control that is convenient, effective and safe, not every manufacturer of birth control can make that promise. Some birth control options are lacking in the safety category, putting women at risk of developing side effects that can result in a trip to the emergency room.
Instead of trying newer birth control options, women may want to consider older, time-tested birth control pills that contain hormones that are effective without being dangerous.
Birth Control and Blood Clots
Birth control that contains drospirenone, a fourth-generation synthetic progestin hormone, can put you at risk for developing life-threatening blood clots and other side effects. While the original advertisements for Yaz, one of the drospirenone-containing pills, promised that these pills could work as a contraceptive, reduce bloating and prevent acne, the reality is Yaz can be dangerous.
Yaz, Yasmin and Ocella are all birth control pills that contain drospirenone. More than 10,000 women using these products have suffered from side effects, and as a result have filed lawsuits against the makers of these drugs.
Emergencies related to blood clots can escalate quickly, leading to a stroke or pulmonary embolism. Strokes occur when blood clots travel to the brain area and limit or cut off blood flow. Pulmonary embolisms occur when blood clots travel to the lungs. The safety label for Yaz explains that the risk for pulmonary embolism is the greatest during the first year taking the drug.
Birth Control and Organ Damage
Another birth control option that should be approached with caution is Mirena, a long-term intrauterine device (IUD) that is implanted in the uterus. With Mirena, the price of convenience—not having to remember to take daily pills—may be too high. Upon careful inspection of the prescription information that comes with Mirena, you will read about the risks of device migration and device expulsion — serious problems that occur when the device doesn’t stay in place.
With device migration, Mirena moves from its original place, tearing through the uterine wall and putting nearby organs, like the bladder, at risk. This can be painful, and lead to infections and organ damage. If the device migrates, a physician must locate and surgically remove it.
The other danger is device expulsion, which is the most commonly reported side effect. This occurs when Mirena spontaneously moves from its original position and exits the body. Women who experience device expulsion have reported bleeding, cramping and pain during sex.
Older (and Safer) Birth Control Pills
Oral contraceptives remain the most popular birth control choice for American women. But different pills carry varied risks, and older pills may be the better choice.
Two studies show the advantage of choosing older contraceptives. One study, by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), estimates that the risk of blood clots is six out of every 10,000 women taking older contraceptives, compared with 10 out of everything 10,000 women taking pills that contain drospirenone drugs. A study by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) found that the risk of blood clots is twice as high in women using third- and fourth-generation birth control pills.
Ask your doctor about the risks of a new birth control before you make any changes, so that you know what you choose is both effective and safe.
Alanna Ritchie is a content writer for Drugwatch.com, specializing in news about prescription drugs, medical devices and consumer safety.