Do Birth Control Drugs Cause Blood Clots?

Yaz and other contraceptive pills may raise blood clot risk

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Natasha Levin

(RxWiki News) Women who use oral contraception, take caution: Birth control pills that contain the hormone drospirenone may cause blood clots. Government officials are still examining study data and will decided whether the pills’ benefits outweigh the risk.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will meet later this week to discuss conflicting information about whether drospirenone-containing contraceptives increases the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE), a blood clot that forms in the vein and travels to other parts of the body, such as the lungs or heart.

"Find out whether your oral contraceptive has drospirenone."

If a person develops VTE, it could lead to a heart attack, stroke or a pulmonary embolism (blocked blood vessel), which can be fatal.

Still, it’s not clear whether drospirenone poses a safety threat.

Earlier this year, two studies were released that called into question the safety of the hormone in oral contraceptives.

According to one study, women taking birth control pills that contained the hormone had a 2-3 times greater risk of VTE, compared to women taking birth control pills that have a different hormone called levonorgestrel. However, other studies did not report an increased risk.

Two committees – the Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee and the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee – will evaluate whether the clot risk is significant enough to warrant a stricter warning on the drug’s packaging.

The birth control pill Yaz, made by Bayer AG, was a popular drospirenone-containing pill in 2008. In recent years, sales of the drug have declined.

Other drugs that contain the hormone include the generic counterparts of Yaz (Gianvi and Loryna) and the brand names Yasmin (generics Ocella, Syeda and Zarah), Beyaz and Safyral.

Drospirenone is a type of female sex hormone called a progestin. Most birth control pills contain a combination of two hormones, estrogen and progestin (although some pills contain only progestin). These hormones help block ovulation and sperm to prevent pregnancy.

In a statement released in May, the FDA cautioned women not to discontinue use of drospirenone-containing birth control pills without talking to a doctor first.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 6, 2011
Last Updated:
December 7, 2011