Considering a lot of women and girls use hormonal birth control not only to prevent pregnancy, but also for health reasons–it can ease cramps and PMS, lighten periods, balance hormones, and even clear your skin–it’s pretty scary to find out contraceptives might be deadly.
You may have seen commercials touting the risks of Yaz and Yasmin lately, but a new study suggests that non-oral hormonal birth control–things like NuvaRing and birth control patches–may pose a much higher risk of blood clots than the Pill.
What is a blood clot? There are a couple different kinds. The good kind is the blood clot that forms when you have a cut or a wound–the scab that forms and helps the bleeding to stop and the injury to heal. However, there’s also a bad kind that can be associated with birth control. This type of a blood clot is called “venous thrombosis,” which is a fancy term meaning a blood clot that forms in a vein. If a clot forms in a vein, it can prevent blood from flowing to the heart. And if blood stops flowing to your heart . . . you can die.
Taking birth control pills can triple your risk of blood clots–yikes! But their non-pill counterparts may be worse: vaginal rings increased the risk by 6.5 percent, and the birth control patch increased chances of blood clots by eight times compared to non-users.
However, it’s important to note that this is just one study, and outside health factors may not have been taken into consideration. Blood clot risk is a lot higher for birth control users who are overweight, inactive, have a family history of blood clots, or who smoke. And something else to think about? Pregnancy actually poses a much higher risk of blood clots than any and all hormonal birth control methods, so using birth control if you’re sexually active can technically lower your chance of blood clots.
Another comforting notion? Only about 1 in 3,000 women who take birth control will get a blood clot. Still, it’s important to stay informed and aware of the risks whenever you’re thinking about starting or changing your contraceptives–especially because blood clots like these have killed some girls. If you’re having safe sex or just trying to keep your period in check, it’s also important to keep the rest of you safe, too.
Have you ever had a blood clot from birth control? Have you ever used a vaginal ring or birth control patch? Have you experienced negative side effects to your birth control? Tell us in the comments!