For those of us who like to convince ourselves that we're dying anytime we feel a tingle in our leg, the increasing amount of research that shows newer types of birth control pills, such as Yaz and Yasmin, have an increased risk of blood clots is disturbing. Now two more studies have shown that using these pills is slightly more dangerous than taking the older pills that don't contain drospirenone, a synthetic version of progesterone. However, doctors point out that the news isn't quite as bad as it sounds, and strongly urge you to stop hitting up WebMD every time you cough.
Reuters reports that a new study of 330,000 Israeli women found that those using the pills with drospirenone have a 43-65% higher chance of having a blood clot than women who use other types of birth control pills. These clots usually form in the legs, but they can travel up to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism. Though that sound scary, it's actually extremely unlikely that you'll drop dead from taking birth control pills. Out of every 10,000 women taking pills like Yaz or Yasmin, only eight to 10 experience a blood clot each year.
Dr. Susan Solymoss of McGill University in Montreal noted in an editorial published with the study that, "It's important to remember that all oral contraceptives are associated with a risk of blood clots." An FDA study released last week found that among women who use the older pills there are about six cases of blood clots per 10,000 women each year. As for the newer pills, the FDA came to basically the same conclusion as the Israeli study: Annually there are about 10 blood clots per 10,000 women taking the drospirenone pills.
The point of all this research isn't just to needlessly freak women out. The risk of blood clots is greatest in the first few months, and Dr. Naomi Gronich, who led the Israeli study, says, "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." However, the findings could be important for women who already have other risk factors for blood clots, like obesity or high blood pressure (as you've probably picked up from the babbling during drug commercials, women who are over 35 and smoke are already advised to avoid birth control pills). Of course, we should also remember that women take the pills to avoid an even riskier medical situation. As Solymoss points out, compared to birth control pills, "pregnancy is a bigger risk for blood clots."
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