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How great is the risk of blood clots with the pill?

By April 13, 2009 - 11:52am
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I'm just wondering how great the risk is of having blood clots as a direct result of being on the birth control pill, and if age puts you at any greater risk. Anyone know?

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Great question Kristin! I believe that blood clots only happen occasionally in women using oral contraceptives, and deaths from blood clots are even more rare. The risk of having a blood clot depends on a number of factors. Age is one of those factors but also the type of contraceptive being taken.

Most oral contraceptives contain both oestrogen and a progestogen. These are called combined oral contraceptives. Depending on the type of progestogen in the pill, they are known as either second or third generation contraceptive pills. But women can have blood clots when they are not using oral contraceptives as well. Data shows that for every 100,000 women aged 15-44 who are not taking the pill, approximately 5-10 will develop a blood clot in one year.

Now, taking a combined oral contraceptive increases the risk of developing a clot by 3-4 times if you are on a second generation pill, 6-8 times if you are taking a third generation pill, and possibly over 8 times for those on pills containing cyproterone. Women using progestogen-only pills are at little or no increased risk of blood clots.

Here is a list of factors that increase the risk of forming blood clogs:

1. A previous blood clot
2. A close family member who has had a blood clot
3. Being overweight
4. Cancer
5. Some blood disorders
6. Being immobilized or paralized
7. Bad varicose veins.

A note of caution, women who have had a previous blood clot should NOT take a combined oral contraceptive.

Hope this helps

April 13, 2009 - 9:05pm
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