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Boggios: A healthy choice for your whole life

There has been some recent concern from patients taking the oral contraceptive pills Yaz and Yasmin regarding the pills’ safety. The concern stems from the release of media reports stating that these two brands of birth control pills (containing the ingredient, drospirenone) have been linked to the deaths of 23 Canadian women. The worry is that drospirenone – a type of progestin – carries a higher risk of developing a blood clot compared to other brands of birth control pills that do not contain this particular progestin. The purpose of this article is to discuss the reality of these risks and to alleviate any concerns patients may have.

Although many of the reported deaths resulted from blood clots, one cannot assume that the oral contraceptive is to blame. It is known that blood clots are a risk with birth control pills, but there are also many other reasons why someone could develop a clot. There has been no strong evidence to indicate that the contraceptive pills were the reason for these deaths. Health Canada has stated that the benefits of Yaz and Yasmin still outweigh the risks when used according to the labelling instructions.

There are warnings on the drug label about the risk of blood clots with these medications which may be 1.5 to 3-fold higher than with other contraceptive pills. To indicate this small difference, the FDA found that 6 women in 10 000 develop a blood clot while using other birth control pills in one year, and about 10 women in 10 000 using Yaz or Yasmin will develop a blood clot in one year. Yes, this is slightly higher, but to put it into perspective, up to 29 women in 10 000 will develop a blood clot during pregnancy. In other words the risk of blood clots is much higher if a women becomes pregnant than if they were using any form of birth control. Yaz and Yasmin are still considered to be safe and effective, so if you are using either of these medications, and are not experiencing any adverse effects, it is reasonable to continue their use.

Many factors come into play when deciding which birth control pill to take or even whether to take one at all. Some things to consider are a woman’s history of blood clots, heart attack or stroke; age; smoking status; and with Yaz and Yasmin, liver or kidney disease. It is important for women to discuss these details with their doctor in order to make the best decision.


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