Birth Control, Blood Clots and What to Be Aware Of

Written by Amanda Green. 

You may have heard the recent buzz around a particular birth control pill that has come under scrutiny, because of its increased risk of blood clot formation.

This pill, otherwise known as a combined oral contraceptive, contains oestrogen and progesterone which works to stop ovulation. If used the right way, it can be more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.

However, like all medications, the combined oral contraceptive can come with side effects, and in particular for this type of pill, an increased risk of blood clot.

Should you be worried?

Well, the risk of a blood clot for women is generally rare, it’s about two cases in every 10,000 women per year. If you are using one of the combined oral contraceptives available in Australia, the risk is increased to between 5-7 cases per 10,000 women per year, but keep in mind, that it’s still quite rare. The risk depends on the specific progesterone in the pill.

The risk is also likely to be increased if you have other risk factors for blood clots including:

  • Being over the age of 35
  • Being a smoker
  • Having a body mass index > 30kg/m2
  • Having a positive family history of blood clots
  • Having a hereditary or predisposition to blood clots
  • Being immobile; and
  • Some chronic medical conditions

So, what should you do?

If you are currently taking a combined oral contraceptive, it’s important to be aware of the potential risk of a blood clot but you should not be unduly alarmed.

If you are concerned, speak to your pharmacist or GP about the benefits and risks. They can help to identify what the best treatment option is for you based on your health profile, which may even mean not changing your pill. If you want to stop taking your combined oral contraceptive all together, it’s strongly recommended that you continue taking it until you have that discussion with your health professional.

For more information about your particular pill, read the related Consumer Medication Information on your MedAdvisor profile or head to the TGA website.

This post was written by Amanda Green. Amanda is a pharmacist with more than 10 years of both hospital and community pharmacy experience. She is a mother of two young children and is passionate about health and fitness.

 

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