You may have heard the news that popular birth control pills like Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella have been causing serious problems, even in healthy women. Unfortunately, many women didn’t find out about these problems until it was too late. If you or a loved one has suffered a stroke, heart attack, DVT, or a pulmonary embolism, you naturally have important questions – especially if the victim was taking birth control pills containing drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol.
Q: What is drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol birth control?
Drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol are man-made versions of human hormones that prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs. In addition to preventing pregnancy, drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol pills are sometimes prescribed to treat pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) – a severe form of pre-menstrual syndrome. Doctors also use these oral contraceptives to regulate menstrual periods and to treat acne.
Q: What drugs contain drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol?
There are many name-brand birth control pills on the market that contain both of these hormones, including:
Q: Are there serious risks associated with drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol?
Yes. The FDA has confirmed prior studies indicating that newer birth control pills containing drospirenone and estradiol hormones cause increased blood clotting problems as compared with other brands. According to the FDA, the most life-threatening complications associated with these birth control pills include:
- Stroke – a blood clot in the brain
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – a blood clot in the deep veins of the legs
- Pulmonary embolism – a blood clot in the lungs
- Heart attack – a blood clot in the arteries that supply oxygen to the heart muscle
Q: What symptoms should I look out for?
There are many obvious signs and symptoms associated with the adverse cardiovascular effects of drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol birth control pills:
- Sudden weakness, loss of coordination, or collapse
- Inability to raise one or both arms
- Problems talking
- Abnormal vision in one or both eyes
- Sudden, unexplainable anxiety or panic
- Warmth, redness or soreness in the leg
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heartbeat or palpitations
- Coughing up blood or bloody sputum
- Sharp pain in the chest, neck or jaw
- Pressure or tightness in the chest
Q: What should I do if I experience any of these symptoms?
Stroke, heart attack, and pulmonary embolism are all medical emergencies, and DVT may become one very quickly. Therefore, it is important to call 911 as soon as symptoms appear. Don’t try to drive yourself or a loved one to the hospital. By getting paramedics on the scene immediately the rate of survival is increased by up to 30 percent. The emergency operator may give you instructions while you wait for the ambulance, such as using aspirin or initiating CPR for a suspected heart attack. Medical treatment of stroke, heart attack, pulmonary embolism, or DVT usually involves stabilizing the patient, restoring oxygen to the affected tissues, clearing or breaking up blood clots, and undergoing preventative therapy.
Q: How can I avoid these complications?
To completely avoid the risks associated with drospirenone/ethinyl estradiol birth control pills, you should seek out an alternative form of contraception. In addition, those with the following conditions should not use drospirenone/ethinyl estradiol pills, such as Yaz, Yasmin, and Beyaz:
- History of smoking
- Age 35 years or older
- History of abnormal blood clotting
- High blood pressure
- Certain cancers
- Inactive lifestyle
- Heart problems
- Poor circulation
- Pregnancy, or planned pregnancy
- Migraine headaches
This list is not exhaustive. There are other situations where your doctor may advise you against taking drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol birth control pills. You should speak to your doctor to learn more.