Birth control pills tied to elevated blood clot risk

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Birth control pills tied to elevated blood clot riskTaking any form of oral contraceptive can increase a woman’s chance of suffering a blood clot, especially for women who suffer a hormonal abnormality.

Women with this common hormonal disorder face a greater risk of developing life-threatening blood clots while taking oral contraceptive pills. This study adds to research linking birth control pills to blood clots.

A new study from University of Virginia School of Medicine shows that women who have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) are more likely to develop blood clots while taking a birth control pill than women who do not feature this hormonal abnormality. This study appears in the most recent edition of Canadian Medical Association Journal.

About 5 to 10 percent of all women currently are diagnosed with PCOS. The hormonal condition can cause irregular menstrual cycles and women with PCOS are often found to have ovarian cysts.

University of Virginia researchers looked at similar amounts of women with or without PCOS. For women taking birth control pills while diagnosed with PCOS, the risk of a blood clot was double. For women with PCOS but not taking a birth control pill, the risk was 1.5 times higher than the average risk of a blood clot.

Based on the results of this study, researchers in Virginia believe that physicians should reconsider the use of oral contraceptives for women with PCOS. The threat of thromboembolism for these women, although small, is serious as this side effect can often produce life-threatening reactions, like a heart attack or stroke. For some women, like those over the age of 35 or for those who smoke while diagnosed with PCOS, the risk is amplified even more and one study author suggested that physicians avoid prescribing birth control pills for these women altogether.