More Contraceptives Linked to Blood Clots

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At Schmidt & Clark, LLP, we’ve been reporting on the dangers of drospirenone-containing birth control pills for months. But now, a new study has found that women using other types of hormonal contraceptives may be putting themselves at risk for life-threatening blood clots as well. These alternative varieties of birth control include implants, skin patches, and vaginal rings.

What’s the problem?

May 10, 2012 – According to the new research, which was published today in the online version of the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the transdermal patch and vaginal ring have been associated with a sixfold increased risk of blood clots compared to birth control pills containing drospirenone or desogestrel.

Widely-used contraceptives that gradually release hormones into the body to prevent pregnancy include:

  • Implanon and Nexplanon (implants)
  • Ortho Evra (the patch)
  • NuvaRing (vaginal ring)

For the study, a team led by Dr. Ojvind Lidegaard of the University of Copenhagen collected data on incidents of venous thrombosis in Danish women ages 15 to 49 who took methods of birth control other than the pill. The researchers found that between 2000 and 2010 there were more than 3,400 diagnoses of the condition. For women who took no such hormonal birth control products, two patients developed blood clots for every 10,000 (combined) years they used contraceptives.

Additional findings of Lidegaard’s study included:

  • women taking levonorgestrel-based birth control pills had a threefold increased risk of developing blood clots, or 6.2 clots for every 10,000 years they took the pill;
  • skin patches were associated with an eight times higher risk, or 9.7 clots per 10,000 exposure years;
  • vaginal rings were linked to a 6.5 times increased risk, equalling out to approximately 7.8 events per 10,000 years exposure;
  • the increased risk of blood clots for women using implants containing only progestogen was very small.

“For the majority of young women, the recommendation is second-generation combined pill with levonorgestrel, and for women who have given birth, that a hormone-releasing intrauterine device is an attractive option, because it at the same time does not increase the risk of venous thrombosis, perhaps even protects against them, and reduces menstrual complaints,” Lidegaard said.

The researchers concluded by stating that in order to reduce the number of women who develop blood clots from birth control, doctors should look at the pill as an attractive form of contraception.

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