You might have read the news that YAZ and Yasmin, two newer birth control pills, are riskier to take than older contraceptives due to higher potential for blood clot formation.
But it’s important to put this into perspective. No matter what birth control pill you use, blood clots are a possibility, if an uncommon one. What you might not know is that blood clots are even more common in pregnancy. Fortunately, the vast majority of the millions of women who get pregnant and give birth each year don’t suffer blood clots. Just as millions of women take birth control pills with no such side effects.
So, is there a unique problem with YAZ? Yes, but not the one identified in the headlines. The problem is in the marketing.
YAZ was promoted to women as a pill for bloating and acne in addition to its contraceptive effects. While that might be a good marketing strategy, it’s not a good medical one. Contraceptives are for birth control, and the best one for you, based on your medical history, might have nothing to do with acne. People shouldn’t pick their birth control the way they pick their toothpaste—on the basis of consumer advertising. You should consult your doctor who will look at your history and decide what form of contraception meets your needs. If your family has a history of strokes, blood clots, or thrombophlebitis (a blood clot that causes swelling in a vein), your doctor will almost certainly order advanced testing due to the possibility that any birth control pill—YAZ, Yasmin, or older medicines—might be inappropriate for your condition.
But if your doctor has already determined that YAZ or Yasmin is a safe bet, and you’re on one of these now? Keep taking it unless your doctor says otherwise. The alternative could be unintended pregnancy. And pregnancy, ironically enough, is more likely to cause a blood clot than your birth control pills.
- Yvonne S. Thornton, MD, MPH