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Birth control pills increase blood clot risk

Filed December 6th, 2012 Joshua Sophy

Women suffering from a common hormonal abnormality face an increased risk of blood clots if they take any form of oral contraceptive pills.

A new study from University of Virginia School of Medicine finds women who have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) are more likely to develop blood clots while taking a birth control pill than women who do not feature this hormonal abnormality. The research indicates that women suffering from PCOS who take an oral contraceptive are doubling their risk of suffering a blood clot.

About 5 to 10 percent of all women currently are diagnosed with PCOS. The hormonal condition can cause irregular menstrual cycles and women with PCOS are often found to have ovarian cysts. For women taking birth control pills while diagnosed with PCOS, the risk of a blood clot was double. For women with PCOS but not taking a birth control pill, the risk was 1.5 times higher than the average risk of a blood clot.

Researchers believe physicians should reconsider the use of oral contraceptives for women with PCOS. The threat of thromboembolism (blood clots) for these women is serious as this side effect can often produce life-threatening reactions, like a heart attack or stroke. For women over the age of 35 or for those who smoke while diagnosed with PCOS, the risk is amplified even more and one study author suggested that physicians avoid prescribing birth control pills for these women altogether.

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