Alternative Forms of Birth Control Associated With Serious Blood Clots

Though wildly popular among women in the United States, oral contraception may coincide with dangerous side effects that few know little about. Subsequently, several brand-name birth control pills, containing a number of active ingredients, have become the subject of increasing concern for their association with the development of blood clots. Until recently, however, birth control pills were the only form of contraception with severe life,threatening consequences. In a recent turn of events, Danish researchers discovered that hormone-releasing skin patches, implants and vaginal rings may place women at similar risk.

While birth control pills remain the most popular form of contraception on the U.S. market, different variations are being developed to accommodate the influx of women looking to avoid becoming pregnant. In an attempt to make contraception more convenient, efficient and effective, pharmaceutical companies have begun manufacturing alternative methods. Amongst the most popular of these alternatives to birth control pills are hormone-releasing skin patches, implants and vaginal rings.

The implant consists of a single, thin rod that is inserted under the skin of a women’s upper arm. The rod contains a progestin that is released into the body over 3 years. When implanted properly, it has proven to be 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. Two popular variations of this technique include Implanon and Nexplanon.

This skin patch is worn on the lower abdomen, buttocks, or upper body. It is specifically designed to releases the hormones progestin and estrogen into the bloodstream. During treatment, women replace their patch once a week for three weeks. During the fourth week, they are not to wear a patch, so they may have a menstrual period. The patch is 91–99% effective at preventing pregnancy, but it appears to be less effective in women who weigh more than 198 pounds.

As its name suggests, the vaginal ring releases the hormones progestin and estrogen into the vaginal opening. Women are instructed to wear the ring for three weeks, take it out for the week that they have their period, and then put in a new ring. It is 91–99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

While hormone-releasing skin patches, implants and vaginal rings have demonstrated a unique propensity for the reduction of unwanted pregnancies, their use is not without concern. According to a recent Danish study, these alternative forms of contraception may actually increase woman’s risk of suffering from a blood clot beyond that of birth control pills.

Dr. Ojvind Lidegaard, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Copenhagen, collected data on incidents of venous thrombosis in Danish women using methods of birth control other than the pill. All of the women examined in the study were aged 15 to 49, and none were pregnant. The researchers found that between 2000 and 2010 there were more than 3,400 diagnoses of venous thrombosis. For women who did not use any type of hormonal contraceptive, two women developed clots for every 10,000 (combined) years they used contraceptives. For women taking the pill containing the hormone levonorgestrel, the risk for a clot was three times higher, or 6.2 clots for every 10,000 years they took the pill, the researchers found.

In continuing their research, they discovered that alternative methods of birth control posed as a more serious risk to unnecessary blood clots. The risk to women who used a skin patch was about eight times higher, or 9.7 clots per 10,000 exposure years. Women who used a vaginal ring had a 6.5 times higher risk, or 7.8 events per 10,000 exposure years). For women who used an implant that contained only progestogen, the increased risk for clots was very small.

According to Lidegaard “The transdermal patch and vaginal ring confer at least a sixfold increased risk of venous thrombosis as combined pills with desogestrel or drospirenone, a risk which is about twice the risk among women using second-generation pills with levonorgestrel.” Depending on where the thrombi develop, these blood clots may be associated with severe, life-threatening complications. The following is a list of complications directly correlated to the location of the clot itself:

  • Legs (deep vein thrombosis)
  • Lung (pulmonary embolism)
  • Brain (stroke)
  • Heart (heart attack)
  • Eyes (total or partial blindness)

Do I Have a Birth Control Lawsuit?

The trial lawyers at The Senators (Ret.) Firm, LLP have decades of experience navigating through complex legislative and regulatory issues and litigating high stakes cases all over the nation. Our law firm focuses on the representation of plaintiffs in birth control lawsuits. We are currently accepting new cases in all 50 states.

If you or a loved one has suffered from a blood clot after taking birth control, you may be entitled to financial compensation. For a free case review, please click the link below or call toll free 24 hrs/day 1-(949) 557-5800.