Study: Blood Clot Risk Greater for Women with PCOS Who Take a Birth Control Pill

Zofran RemovedA new study reveals that use of oral birth control pills, such as Yaz and Yasmin, among others, might double the risk for developing blood clots in women diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

Reuters first reported on the University of Virginia School of Medicine study, which found that while the overall risk for developing a blood clot is, for the most part, small among women diagnosed with PCOS, “for some women, [the risks] might be high enough to say we really shouldn’t use the Pill, such as for women over 35 who smoke,” said study researcher Dr. Christopher McCartney. The study appears in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, said the Huffington Post.

PCOS, which affects 5-10 percent of the female population, occurs when the female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone, and the male hormone, androgen, are imbalanced, said the Huffington Post. PCOS patients may also experience menstrual irregularities due to anovulation (the absence of ovulation), as well as cystic ovaries, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The research involved a review of 43,506 women between ages 18 and 46 who were diagnosed with PCOS. This group’s health information was compared to the same number of women without PCOS, said the Huffington Post. The researchers discovered that the risk of developing blood clots was twice as high for women with PCOS who take oral birth control, and 1.5 times higher for women who have PCOS but not taking birth control. The results indicate that, “physicians should consider the increased risk of venous thromboembolism when prescribing contraceptive therapy to women with PCOS,” the researchers stated in the study, said the Huffington Post.

In 2011, a study, also published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, linked newer birth control pills that contain drospirenone—Yaz, Yasmin, Beyaz, Ocella, and Zarah—with an increased risk of developing blood clots. That study followed 329,995 women in Israel and discovered that blood clot risks might be greater than 40 percent higher for women who take drospirenone-containing birth control medicines when compared with women who take older generation birth control pills, according to a prior MedPage Today report. Another prior study followed research that revealed a blood clot-drospirenone-containing birth control pill link, said the Huffington Post.

We recently wrote that a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that combined hormonal birth control methods, such as Yaz and Yasmin, were associated with a higher risk of heart attack and stroke compared to other types of hormonal contraceptives.

Both Yaz and Yasmin contain a combination of drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol.  Drospirenone is a type of synthetic progestin that had not been used in oral contraceptives prior to the approval of Yasmin. Drospirenone can cause a spike in the blood’s potassium levels. This increase can lead to hyperkalemia, which can result in cardiac arrest. Drospirenone contraceptives have also been linked to a higher risk of blood clots, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. In April, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced that the labels for Yaz, Yasmin, and other drospirenone birth control pills would be updated to provide stronger information regarding their blood clot risks after some studies indicated that these contraceptives were associated with as high as a three-fold increase in the risk of serious blood clots, including pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis.

Thousands of lawsuit alleging Yaz and Yasmin caused serious side effects are now pending in the Yaz and Yasmin products liability litigation now underway in U.S. District Court, District of Southern Illinois. Hundreds of others have been filed in state courts.  The lawsuits allege that Bayer, the maker of Yaz, failed to warn of the serious risks associated with Yaz and Yasmin. Bayer recently revealed that it has already settled 1,900 Yaz and Yasmin blood clot lawsuits for $406.2 million. The company also said it planned to up its reserves for Yaz and Yasmin lawsuits, and will be setting aside an additional $610 million to take care of legal costs not covered by its insurance.

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