In a recent article published by Reuters, US regulators are adding information to the labels on a popular class of birth control pills that includes Bayer AG's, Yaz, and Yasmin to show that they may raise the risk of blood clots.
All common birth control pills increase a woman's chances of getting potentially fatal blood clots.
But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that some studies showed the danger may be even higher for more recent pills that contain the compound drospirenone, a synthetic hormone.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the FDA said that women should talk to their health-care professional about their risk for blood clots before deciding which birth-control method to use and that doctors should consider a woman's risk for developing a blood clot before prescribing the drugs.
Most birth-control pills contain two types of hormones, estrogen and progestin. All types of pills increase the risk of blood clots, and product labels warn of such risk.
While the risk of blood clots is low among women who take birth-control pills, the FDA said it is higher than the risk among women who aren't taking the pills. However, the risk of blood clots from pregnancy and during the postpartum period is higher than that of women taking all types of birth-control pills.
Blood clots form inside a vein and are known as deep vein thrombosis. The clots usually form in the lower leg or thigh, but can break loose and travel to other areas of the body such as the
The FDA's own study found that 10 in 10,000 women taking pills with drospirenone would get a blood clot per year, compared with about six in 10,000 women taking older contraceptives.
A clot in blood vessels can prove fatal if it breaks loose and travels to the lungs, heart or brain.
To put the risk into perspective, the FDA added that the risk of blood clots from pregnancy is even higher than any risk from birth control pills.
The announcement comes after an advisory committee of outside experts to the FDA voted in December for a label revision for pills with drospirenone, calling for clearer information about their risks and benefits.
The experts stopped short of agreeing that these pills' risks outweighed their benefits, since some studies found the pills did not increase blood clot risks.
During a December panel meeting, some women's advocacy groups called for the pills to be taken off the market, as the studies that viewed pills favorably were industry-funded.
The consumer groups and patients shared tearful stories about sudden deaths or life-changing disabilities they or their loved ones suffered from blood clots, which they believed were caused by Yaz or Yasmin.
Most common contraceptive pills combine the hormones estrogen and progestin to help block ovulation and sperm. But they also increase the chance of a woman getting blood clots compared to not taking pills, particularly as she ages.
If you or a loved one are taking Yaz, we encourage you to check with your family physician to be sure that this is the right contraceptive medication for you.