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Why Some Young Women Are Dying from the Pill

how to decrease your risk

Four out of five sexually experienced women are on the Pill, according to The Centers for Disease Control. But with the news of recent life-threatening injuries caused by birth control, some are concerned about the safety of this time-tested contraceptive.

This past May, 21-year-old Fallan Kurek collapsed and died of a a pulmonary embolism—a blood clot in her lungs—caused by the Pill. Two months earlier, 26-year-old Jordan Ward suffered a near-fatal stroke from a blood clot in her brain—also caused by the Pill. The stories in the news are cause for alarm, but at the same time, not much is new: any birth control pill increases the chances of developing a blood clot, but only one in 1,000 women will actually get a blood clot. But still, there are ways to decrease your own chances.

Certain factors, like smoking, family history of blood clots, and obesity increase the likelihood of developing a blood clot, but your birth control choice can also play a factor. It turns out that different types of the progestogen hormone can increase or decrease chances of clotting. A study in the British Medical Journal shows that newer birth control pills like Yaz, Angeliq, and Desogen are almost twice as likely to cause blood clots as older pills like Loestrin and Pirmella, since newer medications are made with a different formula of progestogen that doesn't cause acne or weight gain like other formulas might. A progestogen-only pill may also be safer for women who are more at risk for blood clots, according to the American Family Physician

Other factors like regular exercise and a healthy diet can also decrease the likelihood of developing a clot, but be sure to talk to your doctor about what type of birth control may be best for you if you are especially concerned about clotting. If you have a family history of blood clots, then an older formula of pill (though it may have some unpleasant, superficial side-effects) may be better—or other forms of birth control altogether, like the IUD may even be the best for you. Look out for warning signs of blood clots to be safe: Pulmonary Embolism (blood clots in lungs) symptoms include rapid heart rate, chest pain, shortness of breath, and coughing (sometimes with blood) while Deep Vein Thrombosis (clots elsewhere) symptoms include pain, discoloration, and swelling.

Talk to your gynecologist about what is right for you. 

(via Teen Vogue)