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Death by Birth Control: An Unacceptable Risk

Death by Birth Control: An Unacceptable Risk

Last month, 23 young women died because of complications with their birth control pills. The culprit? Yaz and Yasmin.

You’re probably not surprised by this information because this isn’t the first time the risky nature of these new generation birth control pills has hit the media. As of February of this year, nearly 10,000 lawsuits against Bayer — Yaz and Yasmin’s parent company — are still pending, and around 1,200 claims remain unfiled. The company has promised to pay $24 million to patients who have suffered complications with their gallbladder and are anticipating even more lawsuits because of other treacherous side effects, such as pulmonary embolisms, deep-vein thrombosis or other blood clot related injuries.

Yaz and Yasmin are relatively new pills, hitting the market in this millennium, and they tout all sorts of new and desirable effects. Yaz, particularly, can help with symptoms of PMDD including bloating, weight gain, fatigue, depression and anxiety. Plus, it has been approved to treat acne.

However, is the risk worth the reward with these pills?

The truth is that all birth control pills — and, in fact, any hormonal birth control from rings to patches to shots — carry risks of blood clots. According to Ms. Magazine:

For most users, this is a minor concern, affecting approximately six of every 10,000 pill users. For users of new-generation pills — that is, pills containing drospirenone, the fourth-generation synthetic progesterone found in Yaz, Yasmin, Ocella and several other brands — the risk jumps to ten of every 10,000 users, although Bayer maintains that their own clinical studies find the risk comparable to older pills. Note, however, that the risk in most of these studies is compared either to other hormonal contraceptives or to pregnancy, not to using effective non-hormonal contraception.

Some might argue that Yaz and Yasmin are getting a bad rap because they are new to the market and most drugs go through a phase where people want to sue over undesirable side effects. However, how many more young women need to die before we realize that there might be some serious complications with these pills? Even more dangerous is the fact that some professional associations of OBGYNs are actually defending the drugs, saying that the deaths of these young women could have been caused by other complications such as diabetes or PCOS – the latter is a condition that Yaz and Yasmin are actually purported to help manage – which both include a higher risk of blood clots, as well. When you think about it, though, should someone with a condition that already puts her at a higher risk of blood clots be on a pill that could increase the risk of blood clots even further? I’m not a doctor, but I’d venture to say that’s something we should be looking into.

As a profession, doctors are fond of giving people pills to help them manage something unwanted; in this case, that is pregnancy or the side effects of hormones such as acne, heavy periods, anxiety, etc. However, there are other options for women who do not want to mess with their hormones or who do not want to take the risk of these horrible side effects. If you feel something isn’t right with your birth control, or if you feel you need a change, talk to your doctor and ask about your options.

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Photo Credit: lookcatalog

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129 comments

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7:56AM PDT on Jul 10, 2013

I used to take YAZ too & i had a stroke because of them.. i was only 24

I can assure you ALL that if I was told there would be a risk of stroke by taking the pill I NEVER would have taken it! I'd much rather "risk" getting pregnant - and now maybe I will never be able to.

Im not American - not sure how it works there but here, you need a prescription from a gynaecologist to go on the pill - she should have known the risks and explained them to me.

5:35AM PDT on Jul 10, 2013

Every pill takes a risk

5:02AM PDT on Jul 10, 2013

Taking the pill does not just cayuse tragic deaths. I had a stroke due to using the pill and I have been left disabled. I would be interested to know the figures relating to disability caused by pill usage.

11:10PM PDT on Jul 9, 2013

That's Big Pharma....always looking out for the patient...NOT!!!

3:28PM PDT on Jul 9, 2013

Not new!!!

2:25PM PDT on Jul 9, 2013

not ok!

1:29PM PDT on Jul 9, 2013

This is a personal choice to take the pills thank you Helen for stating the facts so eloquently Any drug has risks for some people.

10:11PM PDT on Jul 8, 2013

Sandra S. re peer reviewed vaccine/autism, Wakefield's 250 page report (13 researchers) was on the safety "studies" of vaccines, was" peer reviewed", and never claimed proof of link, specifically did not but suggested more study needed. He has been vindicated though not acknowledged by the findings of others.

9:51PM PDT on Jul 8, 2013

I used Yasmin for a few years. Glad I stopped!

7:25PM PDT on Jul 8, 2013

Condoms are underrated.

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