Originally published on June 27, 2012, on bedsider.org.
“Nothing in life is risk free, and that includes birth control.” Margaret Polaneczky, MD, comes to this simple, spot-on conclusion in her post about a new study on hormonal birth control and women’s risk of heart attack or stroke. The good news? The risks with even the riskiest of types of birth control are still pretty low.
We already had evidence that some combined hormonal contraceptives (CHCs)—contraceptives that contain both a progestin and estrogen—increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes compared to methods with no estrogen. The researchers conclude that the benefits of these methods still outweigh the risks, especially for women who are healthy to begin with.
As the authors of the study emphasized, the main message to take away here is that though some birth control options are riskier than others, all of the available options make up for the risks in benefits—contraceptive and otherwise. On the other hand, for women with risk factors for heart attack or stroke, or for those who are just uncomfortable with the idea of any sort of elevated risk, there are plenty of methods—like the IUD, the implant, and the shot—that work really well and don’t affect the risk of heart attack or stroke. Did someone say win-win?
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