Oral Contraceptive Pills And Blood Pressure
Return To Main Guide
|Does The Contraceptive Pill Cause High Blood Pressure?
Yes, contraceptive pills do slightly increase your blood pressure. This is why your doctor will always check your blood pressure reading when you renew your prescription. However, for most healthy women who are neither obese nor smokers, the rise is negligible. There used to be a debate for many years whether or not it was safe for women to continue taking the Pill into their 30s and 40s because it was thought the risk of complications was greater after 35. Today, due to feedback from clinical trials, most doctors now believe it is safe to continue taking the Pill throughout the perimenopause years right up until menopause (is it safe to take the contraceptive pill after 35?). However, if you are receiving treatment for high blood pressure (hypertension), you will need to talk to your doctor about whether you should use a safer method of contraception like condoms.
Most doctors will advise you not to take the pill if:
If you start taking the birth control pill and your blood pressure increases, your doctor will monitor you closely. The following options will be considered:
All birth control pills are associated with the risk of blood clots, but the risk is extremely low. It was thought that the newer generation of pills which contain the hormone drospirenone would lower this risk even further (early studies funded by the birth control industry indicated this). But a new study carried out in Israel on 330,000 women casts doubt on this claim. It found that popular brand names like Yasmin and Yaz birth control pills, which contain drospirenone, are MORE likely to cause blood clots than the older generation pills. In fact, the risk of clots (technically called venos thromboembolisms) was nearly 65 percent higher. Just so we don't cause any panic, this still only translates to 8 to 10 incidences per 10,000 women every year. That said, clots are highly dangerous, they usually occur in the veins of the leg, but can travel to the lungs where they can lead to a life threatening condition called a pulmonary embolism. For this reason, women who have received a hypertension diagnosis, or are obese or smoke (highest risk factors for blood clots) should avoid taking all oral contraceptives. Prompted by the findings from the Israeli study, the FDA carried out its own research. They found that based on the records of 800,000 American women between 2001 to 2007, the risk of clots was higher in drospirenone-containing pills. They said this translated to 10 cases per 100,000 women compared to the older Pills which were 6 per 100,000.
Curious about the causes of high blood pressure? Or would you like to read about the symptoms of hypertension?
Over the years as improvements are made in the birth control pill, older types of pills are sent into retirement. The different 'generations' of Pills basically vary by which type of progestin they use - progestin is a man-made version of the hormone progesterone. Second generation Pills contained progestins called norgestrel or levonorgestrel. However they tended to produce unwanted side effects like excess body hair and acne outbreaks. The third generation of progestins created in the 1980s were developed to reduce these effects. While they did this, some studies later found that they carried a higher risk of blood clots than the previous generation. About 10 years later, Yasmin was launched by Bayer Healthcare on the market, containing yet another new progestin called drospirenone. Not only did it seem to cause fewer cases of blood clots (now debatable) but it also caused less weight gain and water retention than earlier pills. It also seemed to reduce the symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (a severe form of PMS). In 2006 Bayer launched other new brands containing drospirenone called Yaz and Beyaz - which quickly became the top selling birth control pills in the United States.
|Related Articles on High Blood Pressure
For more related topics, see the following:
Back To Homepage: Womens Health Advice