Birth control pills’ risks
All healthy girls and women can use birth control pills without any worries. But doctors always discuss birth control pills’ risks with women – just to be sure all risks are estimated and prevented. To avoid all birth control pills’ risks, it is very important to check all contra-indications before starting using pills.
Birth control pills are not recommended for women who have had blood clots, high blood pressure, certain types of cancers, heart attack, stroke, liver disease, gallbladder disease, uterine bleeding, cardiac problems, epilepsy, sickle cell disease, chronic renal disease, smokers, prior to elective surgery, suspected pregnancy, obese women, certain types of migraine headaches, or uncontrolled diabetes.
Birth control pills’ risks – Age and smoking
If you are over 35 and smoke or have certain medical conditions such as a history of blood clots or breast or endometrial cancer, your health care professional may advise against taking birth control pills.
Birth control pills’ risks – Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Birth control pills do not protect from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), the virus that causes AIDS, or HPV, the human papillomavirus that can cause cervical cancer.
But women who use birth control pills are less likely to develop symptomatic pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is an infection of the uterus, Fallopian tubes or other reproductive organs. PID is a complication of STDs, especially chlamydia or gonorrhea, and may make you infertile or cause chronic pain. If you are at risk for contracting an STD, you should also use condoms.
Birth control pills’ risks – Heart attack
Newly developed/produced birth control pills do not increase risk of heart attack, but they do increase risk of blood clots. The review stated that hormonal contraceptives should be selected only after weighing the potential risks and benefits to each patient and that women age 35 and older should be screened for additional heart disease risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, migraines and other vascular diseases.
Birth control pills’ risks – Ischemic stroke
There is a small, but significant increase in ischemic stroke risk when using birth control pills. This was a particular concern with early oral contraceptives that contained higher doses of estrogen, but newer preparations containing less estrogen are associated with a lower risk of stroke. In healthy young women (nonsmokers without persistent high blood pressure) the risk is low.
Birth control pills’ risks – Migraines and stroke
Women who take oral contraceptives and have a history of migraines have an increased risk of stroke compared to nonusers with a history of migraine. Your risk is greatest if you have migraines with “aura”—neurologic symptoms related to vision, such as blurred vision, temporary loss of vision or seeing flashing lights or zigzag lines. As a result, the World Health Organization (WHO) has concluded that for women over age 35 who get migraines, the risks of oral contraceptive use usually outweigh the benefits.
Birth control pills’ risks – Venous thromboembolism
Birth control pills’ risks
This rare condition causes clots to form in your blood vessels and can cause symptoms including pain, swelling and varicose veins, and may block the flow of blood. The risk may vary with the type of progestin used in the pill. Smoking and obesity may also increase this risk.
Birth control pills’ risks – Worsen severe diabetes
The estrogen in birth control pills may increase glucose levels and decrease the body’s insulin response, while the progestin in the pills may encourage overproduction of insulin. Use of birth control pills by diabetic women should be limited to those who do not smoke, are younger than 35 and are otherwise healthy with no evidence of persistent high blood pressure, kidney disease, vision problems or other vascular disease.
Birth control pills’ risks – Possible acceleration of gallbladder disease
Estrogen may cause bile to become over-saturated with cholesterol, which can lead to gallstones.
Birth control pills – interaction
Some drugs can reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptives. Likewise, oral contraceptives can interfere with the effects of some drugs.
These are the medicines that affect birth control – Antibiotics (used for several reasons), Rifampin (used to treat tuberculosis), Phenobarbitol (sedative and anti-siezure medicine), Phenytoin, Dilantin (anti-seizure medication), Carbamazepine, Tegretol (anti-seizure medication) and Griseofulvin (potent anti-fungal).
If you take any medication either on a short- or long-term basis, be sure to ask your health care professional or pharmacist about possible interactions with birth control pills and how you should avoid or manage them.
For example, you may need to use an additional contraceptive (such as condoms) as a backup contraceptive method or take a higher or lower-dose pill formulation.
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