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FDA Issues Warning on Popular Birth Control Pill

Women taking some of the newer birth control pills with a synthetic form of progestin known as drospirenone have an increased risk of blood clots, according to a study released by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These newer birth control pills are marketed under such names as Yaz or Yasmin and increase blood clot risk by almost 74 percent.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has scheduled a joint meeting of the Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee and the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee on December 8, 2011 to discuss the risks and benefits of drospirenone-containing birth control pills.

Drospirenone is known to increase potassium levels in the blood. The FDA compared medical records of women taking Yaz with those taking an older birth control pill containing the hormone called levonorgestrel. The women taking pills containing the hormone drospirenone were 74 percent more likely to experience clots than those on low- estrogen pills. The study was funded by the FDA and reviewed the medical history of more than 800,000 U.S. women taking different forms of birth control between 2001 and 2007.

The oral contraceptives containing drospirenone are used for birth control, but they may also be used to regulate cycles for in vitro fertilization or in the treatment of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and moderate acne. Birth control pills containing drospirenone include YAZ (generics – Gianvi and Loryna), Yasmin (generics – Ocella, Syeda, and Zarah), Beyaz, and Safyral.

What if I Am Taking a Birth Control Pill Containing Drospirenone?

If you are currently taking a birth control pill containing the drospirenone, the FDA recommends that you continue taking it unless you are told otherwise by your doctor. If you are considering taking an oral contraceptive for any reason, talk to your doctor before deciding whether one containing drospirenone is right for you.

The FDA recommends that women who are over age 35 and smoke should not take any type of combination birth control pill (including those containing drospirenone), due to an increased risk of serious cardiovascular events.

Know the Symptoms of Venous Thromboembolic Events

A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a rare but serious condition where a blood clot forms inside a vein. These blood clots usually form in the lower leg or thigh, but can break loose and travel to other areas of the body such as the lungs.

If a blood clot travels to the lung, it is called a pulmonary embolism (PE), which is a potentially fatal condition where an artery in the lung becomes blocked. DVTs and PEs are also called venous thromboembolic events, or VTEs.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, seek the help of a health care professional immediately:

  • the new onset of persistent leg pain
  • severe chest pain
  • sudden shortness of breath

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