Can Birth Control Cause Blood Clots In Lungs – My arm was sore, red and swollen. What I didn’t know was that the deadly symptoms were unknowingly caused by my birth control.
Last summer I woke up with pain in my right bicep and shoulder. I didn’t think anything about it. I had been running, canoeing, and working on a massive gardening project the previous weekend. Of course I will feel sick.
- 1 Can Birth Control Cause Blood Clots In Lungs
- 2 Research Story Tip: Looking Back Decades Shows Hospitalized Patients Need More Than Movement To Prevent Clots
- 3 Deep Vein Thrombosis: What Is It, Causes, Prevention, And More
Can Birth Control Cause Blood Clots In Lungs
Yes, it can also be a symptom of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a condition that increases the risk of certain types of hormonal birth control. I had read the warnings about the risk of blood clots associated with birth control pills and heard them echoed in many advertisements. But I had no idea birth control pills and my love of outdoor sports could create the perfect storm.
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It wasn’t until my arm swelled – to the point where I could barely move it – that I finally, reluctantly, went to the nearest clinic to have it checked. The nurse behind the counter sent me straight to the ER. The triage staff quickly assessed my blood clot risk.
All hormonal combination birth control pills (which contain estrogen and progesterone) have a slightly increased risk of blood clots, but some pills are riskier than others. I take Safyral, which
According to research published in The British Medical Journal (BMJ), several pills on the market contain synthetic progesterone, drospirenone, or desogestrel. These hormones appear to put women at greater risk of DVT than pills that use another type of synthetic progesterone, levonorgestrel. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that contraceptives and rings can also increase the risk of blood clots.
The ER staff performed an ultrasound of my arm and neck to confirm DVT. They immediately put me on blood thinners and painkillers and admitted me to the hospital for observation. By then, my arm was huge, throbbing, and could barely move. The doctor told me it was a good idea to come when I did.
Blood Clots And Copd Pulmonary Embolism
Estimates that blood clots kill 60,000 to 100,000 people in the United States each year. The most serious problem in DVT is pulmonary embolism (PE). PE is a blockage that occurs when a blood clot or part of any clot from a DVT breaks off within the main vein and travels to the lungs. The impact can damage the lungs or be fatal because it affects the heart and the body’s oxygen supply, causing sudden death.
My female friends – who also took birth control pills and had read or heard the same warnings – and I couldn’t believe my DVT. I naively thought that the warning only applied to smokers; I have never smoked a day in my life.
But honestly, if I had paid more attention to the warnings, I don’t think I would have stopped taking birth control pills either. Women take birth control pills for various reasons. Not everything is related to family planning.
I started using hormonal birth control in my teens to manage heavy, miserable periods and reduce some of the pain, bleeding, and other symptoms of endometriosis. For me, the benefits of taking the pill certainly outweigh the overall risks. Birth control pills improve my quality of life.
Research Story Tip: Looking Back Decades Shows Hospitalized Patients Need More Than Movement To Prevent Clots
My only regret is not learning more about blood clots and what to look for. I know, for example, to wake up frequently during long flights after running an out-of-town marathon, but I never think to pay attention to the rest of my body. Although blood clots most often occur in the legs, they can also occur in the arms, as in my case, or in the pelvis.
, the risk of developing DVT from combined birth control pills is quite low: 3 to 9 in every 10,000 women per year. This is compared to 1 to 5 women out of every 10,000 women per year who do not use contraception, do not get pregnant, and will still experience DVT. However, pregnancy and the first three months after giving birth have a higher risk of DVT, even much higher than using combination birth control pills.
After being discharged from the hospital, I consulted a hematologist who monitored me while I was on blood thinners for 90 days. After about eight weeks, my body finally absorbed the lump. Over time, the pain lessened and I slowly regained full mobility in my arm.
The hematologist and I decided to investigate whether my birth control was the most likely cause of the blood clots. We performed a series of tests and ruled out factor V (a gene mutation that causes blood clots) and thoracic outlet syndrome (TOC), which is compression of the nerves or blood vessels just below the collarbone. We talk about Paget-Schröetter syndrome, also called upper extremity deep vein thrombosis, that is, DVT caused by intense and repetitive upper body activity.
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Is my adventurous weekend to blame for my DVT? Possible. My hematologist agreed that the combination of birth control pills and upper body physical activity could create the right conditions for blood clots in my arms.
However, the effects of DVT do not stop after the blood clot disappears. I had to stop taking birth control pills immediately and I could no longer use any method that uses combined hormones. Because I relied on pills to help with endometriosis, I suffered greatly without them. Blood thinners caused increased menstrual bleeding which left me with pain, fatigue, and iron deficiency.
Ultimately my OB-GYN and I decided a hysterectomy was the best option. I had that surgery last winter.
I’m finally on the other side of this situation and back to my active lifestyle, but I think about how last summer took a scary turn. My goal now is to tell other women about paying attention to their bodies.
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Don’t ignore symptoms or warning signs because you are too busy or afraid of being accused of overreacting. You are the first and only person to know if something is wrong with your body.
Have unexplained pain, swelling, warmth, redness, or bluish discoloration? This could be a DVT, especially if the swelling persists for several days. The veins on my arms and chest became more prominent as time went on. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms of PE such as unexplained shortness of breath, fast heartbeat, chest pain, coughing, or coughing up blood. You should also check for a family history of blood clots and share that information with your doctor.
When considering birth control options, read about the side effects carefully. Too often we skim through the information, warnings, and contraindications that come with our medications. Be aware of factors that increase your risk of blood clots. For example, smoking or obesity increases the risk of blood clots. And if you have surgery, tell your surgeon about taking oral contraceptives.
Jennifer Chesak is a freelance book editor and writing instructor living in Nashville. He is also an adventure travel, fitness, and health writer for several national publications. She earned a Master of Science in Journalism from Northwestern’s Medill and is working on her first fiction novel, set in her home state of North Dakota.
Deep Vein Thrombosis: What Is It, Causes, Prevention, And More
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Our experts continually monitor the health and fitness field, and we update our articles as new information becomes available. Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a blood clot from your leg that travels to your lungs and stays there. This causes problems with blood flow and oxygen levels in your lungs. Treatment can help most people with pulmonary embolism, but you need immediate diagnosis and treatment. You will have to take medication for several months afterward.
Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a blood clot in the blood vessels of your lungs. This occurs when a blood clot in another part of your body (often a leg or arm) moves through the blood vessels to the lungs. PE restricts blood flow to your lungs, lowering oxygen levels in your lungs and increasing blood pressure in your pulmonary arteries.
With proper diagnosis and treatment, PE is rarely fatal. However, untreated PE can be serious and cause other medical complications, including death. About 33% of pulmonary embolism sufferers die before they receive diagnosis and treatment.
Blood Clots & The Pill
Pulmonary embolism is one of the most common heart and blood vessel diseases in the world. This disease ranks third after heart attack and stroke. In the United States, approximately 350,000 people each year receive PE.
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The first signs of pulmonary embolism are usually shortness of breath and chest pain that gets worse if you move or take a deep breath. You may cough