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New birth control pills have higher blood clot risk

By jeremyc | May 29, 2015

According to a new study, women using newer birth control pill types had a greater risk of blood clots.

The study was led by Yana Vinogradova, research fellow in medical statistics at the University of Nottingham, UK, who said, “About 9 percent of women of reproductive age worldwide use [birth control pills]. This percentage rises to 18 percent of women in developed countries and 28 percent of women in the United Kingdom. Although [birth control pills] are generally effective in preventing pregnancy, they have measurable side effects such as venous thromboembolism (VTE).”

VTE involves a deep vein blood clot that can often happen in the leg. The clot may sometimes move to the lungs. For this study, the researchers looked at VTE risk among women taking new and old types of birth control pills. The pills differ in the hormones used.

Over 10,562 women in the country in the age group of 15-49 years were part of the study. The women experience VTE for the first time in 2001-2013. They were compared to more than 40,000 women in the same group who did not experience VTE.

On analysis, the women who used older types of pills, like those containing the hormones norgestimate and norethisterone, had a 2.5 times greater risk of VTE. New pills with hormones drospirenone and desogestrel were linked to an around 3.6 to 4.3 times greater risk of VTE.

Vinogradova said, “[Women] should not stop using them, but should consult their doctor and review their current type of pill at their next appointment if there are any concerns.”

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