Woman thinking about birth control

Are you putting yourself at risk?

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It’s official! I’m changing my name to Debbie Downer as I give you the startling statistics on something most of us ladies have either taken or are currently taking.

If you are taking oral contraception, especially Yaz, then this is a must read. It’s not without its risks.

There’s no denying it, the pill has changed the life of women since it was introduced in the fifties, enabling us to plan pregnancies and decide whether we want children or not. Interested in a brief history of the pill? Follow this link.

The oral contraceptive pill (OCP) known as Yaz, Yasmin or Yaz Flex (the new kid on the Australian block) has been in the media recently for all the wrong reasons. Introduced in 2006 as the ‘cure-all’ to all our lady problems, it promised to have fewer side effects than other pills, rid you of that pesky PMS and give you a silky smooth complexion (it would also turn you into a champion equestrian…)

Yaz, it turns out, does have side-effects and they are particularly troubling. According to Health Canada, between 2007 and 2013, doctors and pharmacists have reported 600 adverse reactions and 23 deaths where Yaz or Yazmin was the suspected culprit. More than half these deaths were women under the age of 26, with the youngest being just 14 years of age!

Some of the reported side effects:
  • Pulmonary embolism (a blood clot travelling to the lungs).
  • Heart attacks
  • Cerebral thrombosis (a blood clot travelling to the brain)
  • Gall bladder disease.
You are also at an increased risk of adverse side effects if:
  • You are aged 35 or over
  • Smoke
  • Have a body mass index of greater than 30

Women who are long-term users of NSAIDs (e.g ibuprofen, nurofen) should not take Yaz.

Did you know?  There is a 74% increase in risk of blood clots in women who take Yaz (as opposed to a 26% increase in other OCPs).

Bayer, the makers of this OCP, are standing by their product. This is in spite of the fact that there are now well over 10 000 lawsuits filed against the company.

  • As of 2013, they had settled without admission of liability,  the claims of about 4 800 women in the US to the tune of $720 million, with another $250 million set aside for future claims.
  • In March of 2013, Bayer paid $24 million to patients who claimed they had developed gall bladder disease or had their gall bladder removed whilst taking Yaz.
  • By 2015 Bayer had paid close to $2 billion to resolve claims over venous blood clot injuries (tens of thousands of women by now) and will still not admit any wrong-doing!

If you, or anyone you know, is taking some form of this pill, please seriously reconsider your options.

What about other forms of contraception?

They all come with risks . For example, Merck & Co. agreed in 2014 to settle all claims over its NuvaRing birth control ring. Plaintiffs in more than 2,000 lawsuits alleged serious injuries and deaths from blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes.(I told you I was Debbie Downer!)

I guess the best advice I can give you is to do your homework when deciding what form of contraception you plan to take. Weigh up the risks versus the benefits and then make an informed choice (I would also advise this when being prescribed any medication).

If you would like to read more, check out this interview with functional medicine practitioner and hormone specialist, Aviva Romm.

Signing off now,