Increased Risk of Blood Clots in Non-Pill Contraceptives

Most women of reproductive age in the United States have used at least one method birth control. Between 2006–2008, 99% of women who had ever had sexual intercourse had used at least one form of contraception. The most popular method of birth control was the oral contraceptive pill, used by 10.7 million women in the United States. However, those not interested in the pill were given an alternative. Many women preferred using special hormone-releasing skin patches, implants and vaginal rings. However, a recent Danish study suggests that these alternative forms of contraception may coincide with the development of severe, life-threatening complications. Women who use them may significantly increase their risk of developing a serious blood clot, along with any complications that may ensue.

Skin patches, implants and vaginal rings are each different variations of contraceptives that were designed to generate the same outcome. Though different in appearance, each share similar qualities that assist in birth control. Their primary mechanism of action witnesses the release of specific hormones, typically progestin, to regulate unwanted pregnancies. These hormones are specifically designed to alter the conditions of the cervical and uterine linings by suppressing gonadotropin. The resulting conditions are inhospitable to sperm and prevent them from entering the uterus, which in turn prohibits implantation.

While these variations of birth control have proven to be as high as 99% effective, they are not without concern. Some women using hormonal contraceptives other than birth control pills may have an increased risk for serious blood clots, according to a Danish researcher report.

“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,” said lead researcher Dr. Ojvind Lidegaard, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Copenhagen. Implanon, and the newer Nexplanon, are two currently popular implants that were included in the study.

The recent study collected data on incidents of venous thrombosis in Danish women using methods of birth control other than the pill. All the women 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.

Those who did not receive any type of hormonal contraceptive exhibited the lowest propensity for the development of blood clots. Subsequently, only two women who did not use hormone treatment developed clots for every 10,000 (combined) years they used contraceptives. Furthermore, women taking oral contraceptives witnessed an increased rate in blood clot development. Their risk for a clot was three times higher, or 6.2 clots for every 10,000 years they took the pill, the researchers found.

Of significant concern, however, were the increased rates witnessed by women who used skin patches, vaginal rings and implants. 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). Those who used an implant that contained only progestogen, the increased risk for clots was very small.

Blood clots, otherwise known as thrombi, are the result of a complex mechanism responsible for healing the body. In the presence of a damaged blood vessel, platelets are recruited from the blood stream to the injured area to form an initial plug. These activated platelets release chemicals that start the clotting cascade, using a series of clotting factors produced by the body. Ultimately, fibrin is formed, the protein that crosslinks with itself to form a mesh that makes up the final blood clot.

When a blood clot is formed as part of a normal repair process of the body, there is little consequence. However, there are times when blood clots form for unexplained reasons, and this can have potentially significant consequences. The presence of an unnecessary blood clot induced by a hormone-releasing contraceptive device may result in catastrophic complications. Blood clots that prohibit a sufficient amount of blood to be circulated to parts of the body prevent said parts from receiving the appropriate nutrients necessary for survival. Therefore, a blood clot may starve vital organs of oxygen and ultimately lead to severe complications. The following are potential adverse events that may coincide with a blood clot:

  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Venous thromboembolism (VTE)
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Hyperkalemia
  • Cerebrovascular accidents (CVA)
  • Heart attack
  • Myocardial infraction
  • Gallbladder complications
  • Stroke
  • Death

Do I Have a Blood Clot 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 blood clot lawsuits. We are currently accepting new cases in all 50 states.

If you or a loved one has suffered from a blood clot after using a hormone-releasing patch, implant or vaginal ring, 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.