Birth Control & Blood Clots

Blood clots can occur in many different locations in your body. Blood clots are not always bad; in fact, it is important to stop bleeding of a cut or an injury. However, a number of other conditions can also cause blood clots in brain, lungs or other critical locations that need immediate medical attention. Many women feel concerned about using birth control because they are worried about birth control blood clots. Is this really true? Keep reading to find out more.

Can Birth Control Pills Cause Blood Clots?

Birth control pills are among the most widely used contraceptive methods in the US. Birth control pills do not directly cause blood clots, but their regular use may increase your risk of developing blood clots by 3-4 times.

In some women, the estrogen found in combination hormonal birth control pills increases the risk of developing blood clots in lungs, known as pulmonary embolism or PE, or blood clots in legs, known as deep vein thrombosis or DVT. Blood clots in a leg can travel through the circulatory system and result in pulmonary embolism. Compared with past birth control pills, the modern day hormonal contraceptives have a fairly low risk of causing DVT or PE. To put it simple, the risk for PE or DVT is higher for pregnant woman than for non-pregnant woman taking hormonal contraceptives.

Some combination hormonal birth control pills that contain the progestin called desogestrel may increase your risk of blood clots more as compared to birth control pills with other types of progestin.

Besides, there is more estrogen in birth control patches than in the low-dose birth control pills. The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) warns women who use birth control patches are a bit more likely to get blood clots than those who use the pills.

If I Have Clots, Can I Use Birth Control Pills?

You should also ask your doctor questions related to birth control blood clots if you have had clots in the past. Besides, you should stop taking birth control pills in the following circumstances:

  • If you are already at high risk of developing blood clots, you should avoid birth control pills.
  • Stop using birth control pills if your blood clotting problem has not been treated successfully and you're on progestin-only type of pill.
  • You should avoid using the combination pill if you have inherited blood clotting disorders or if you have had vein inflammation in the past.
  • You should consult with your doctor if you are planning to use other estrogen-based birth control devices because birth control patches, implants, vaginal rings and injections can also increase your risk of developing blood clots.

Other Factors That May Cause Blood Clots

While birth control blood clots are definitely possible, many other factors can also cause blood clots.

1. Blood Clots in the Heart

Atrial fibrillation is a condition in which the upper chamber of your heart fails to beat in a rhythmic fashion and does not have a single electrical impulse. This makes the atrium jiggle like a bowl of Jell-O. The condition may lead to the development of blood clots along the lining of the atrium. The clot in this area can travel to other parts of the body, causing diseases such as ischemic bowel or stroke.

2. Blood Clots in the Veins

Deep vein thrombosis refers to a condition in which blood clots not only develop in the veins of your legs, but also in veins of your arms or regions around the pelvis. The most common risk factors are pregnancy, prolonged immobility, smoking, inherited blood clotting disorders and hormone therapy like birth control pills.

3. Blood Clots in the Arteries

The excessive buildup of plaque can lead to the narrowing of blood vessels, which will increase your risk of developing blood clots in the arteries. Plaque is a collection of calcium, cholesterol, cell waste products and fibrin. The plaque can rupture and form a clot that can completely block an artery. The most common risk factors are high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol levels, diabetes and a family history of heart disease.

4. Other Kinds of Blood Clots

Except for the birth control blood clots and other blood clots mentioned above, there are still other blood clots you should know. Sometimes, bleeding occurs outside an artery, which will cause the blood to pool and clot. Sometimes, you may notice blood clots in the vagina, urine and stool. It could be caused by hemorrhoids or simple bladder infections, but you should go to see your doctor to ensure there is nothing serious.

It is important to bear in mind that blood clots in the urine may well be a sign of a bladder tumor. It may also happen due to the irritation of the bladder lining. This is usually the case with older male patients who have enlarged prostate glands. Blood in the stool is never normal. Some common illnesses causing rectal bleeding are anal fissures, hemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel disease, tumors, diverticular bowel disease and infections. Go to see you doctor to rule out the possibility of having some serious illnesses. 

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