Recent studies have revealed a significant connection between the use of Bayer’s popular oral contraceptive Ocella and an increased risk of serious health complications like gallbladder disease. This condition occurs when bile in the gallbladder becomes concentrated and thickens, which results in gallstones that can interrupt the organ’s natural processes. Signs and symptoms of Ocella-induced gallbladder disease may include pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
What’s the Problem with Ocella?
A big part of what makes Ocella so attractive to millions of women is its ability to release excess premenstrual water weight. First approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 2008, Ocella is marketed as a so-called ‘fourth generation’ combination oral contraceptive. While it contains a similar synthetic estrogen found in many older forms of birth control, its drospirenone component is new and exclusive to Ocella and its sister contraceptives. Prescribed to millions of women worldwide, Ocella has been proven to increase the chances of gallbladder disease and surgical removal of the gallbladder, a procedure known as cholecystectomy.
Gallbladder Disease Overview
The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ located on the underside of the liver whose chief function it is to store bile. Bile is produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder until it is needed to help digest fat. Anything that slows or otherwise obstructs the flow of bile out of the gallbladder may subsequently result in gallbladder disease. Unfortunately, the drospirenone contained in Ocella may increase cholesterol levels in the bile and decrease gallbladder movement, which can create gallstones that lead to serious problems if they become trapped in the bile ducts.
Symptoms of Gallbladder Disease
Signs and symptoms of Ocella-induced gallbladder disease may include:
- sudden pain in the upper right side of the abdomen
- indigestion or pain after meals
- intolerance of fatty foods
- pain upon taking deep breaths that moves to right shoulder blade
- jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- abdominal bloating
- loose, light-colored stool
- rigid abdominal muscles on the right side
Gallbladder disease is one of the most commonly reported digestive diseases in the United States. Approximately one million Americans are diagnosed with the condition each year, and about 20 million people are living with the disease – about 6.3 million men and 14.2 million women.
More than 90% of gallstones found in patients in the United States are composed primarily of cholesterol. When the bile in the gallbladder becomes over-saturated with cholesterol, it begins to form solid crystals, which then accumulate to form stones of various sizes. A diet high in cholesterol-containing foods – red meat, poultry, fish, or dairy products – is the usual culprit for the development of gallstones. Additionally, polyunsaturated fats like vegetable oils can cause the liver to secrete larger quantities of cholesterol that pass into the gallbladder and lead to stone formation.