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The Blood Clot Mafia of Contraceptives

Written by Jenna Lee Dillon on May 17, 2012

If the Yaz family of birth control pills is the “Mafia of Contraceptives,” then somebody better tell Uncle Luigi that the family just gained two new hit men: NuvaRing and Ortho Evra Patch.

Not to be lighthearted when discussing dangerous pharmaceuticals that are used by millions of women each year, but the analogy fits. Rather than bearing concrete boots and guns with silencers, the Ring and the Patch join Yaz, Yasmin, Beyaz and Ocella as pills that can cause serious deep vein blood clots that are tied to adverse health risks, even for otherwise healthy women.

These blood clots can travel throughout the body wreaking havoc when they hit (no pun intended) vital organs such as the brain (stroke), heart (heart attack) and lungs (pulmonary embolism), all of which can prove fatal.

Use of NuvaRing doubles a woman’s risk of developing a blood clot, and placement of the Ortho Evra Patch increases the risk by 2.5 times, compared to birth control pills that contain levonorgestrel. The study that revealed these links was conducted in Denmark over a 10-year period and involved 1.6 million women, reports ABC News.

More Convenient Than 7/11 and More Dangerous Too

The link between NuvaRing (desogestrel) and the Patch (norelgestromin) and their increased risk of blood clots delivers a heavy blow to women who choose those methods due to the convenience factor. For those who have trouble remembering to take a daily pill, the Patch – which is changed weekly – or the Ring – which is replaced once a month – prove effective as alternative forms of consistent pregnancy prevention. For some of us, no number of cell phone alarms or morning routines will ensure that we take the pill every day at the same time, leaving us in quite a predicament.

Another Option

The convenience and added reliability of a birth control method that only needs monitored once a week or once a month is indisputable, but health risks revealed by the Denmark study may force some ladies to look to other alternatives. One possible choice is the intrauterine device (IUD). The IUD is a small device that is inserted into the uterus. Depending on which kind you choose, it will prevent pregnancy for 5 to 12 years. For more information, read what Birth Control News has to say about IUDs.

Call Your Doctor If….

For some women, the results of this study may cause their doctor to immediately rule out further prescriptions of Ortho Evra Patch or NuvaRing. The Ring, the Patch and the Yaz family of pills are exceptionally dangerous for women who are:

  • Smokers
  • Older than 35
  • Overweight/obese
  • Genetically predisposed to blood clots due to family history

Women who fall into any of these categories are already at a substantially increased risk for blood clots with the use of any oral contraceptive, and should consult their doctors immediately about switching to a birth control that is less likely to cause clots.

What will you do?

The risk is still “relatively” low – annually about 8 cases for the Ring and 10 cases for the Patch, per 10,000 women – but whether convenience of contraception is worth a greater chance of suffering potentially fatal health issues is an individual decision. Please share this blog with friends who you think might use or have used the Ortho Evra Patch or the NuvaRing, so that they can make informed decisions about their birth control options.

Have you had a deep vein blood clot after taking birth control? What are the most important factors you consider when deciding on a birth control? Let us know in the comments below!

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How effective is your birth control?

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