Two recent studies found that women who take contraceptive pills containing the hormone drospirenone (Yaz, Yasmine, Beyaz) have 2 to 3 times the risk of developing blood clots compared to those taking pills containing levonorgestrel. The FDA is still reviewing the research and conducting its own study of the contraceptive's safety. Preliminary results "suggest a 1.5-fold increase in the risk of blood clots for women who use drospirenone-containing birth control pills compared to users of other hormonal contraceptives." That's about a 50 percent increased risk of blood clots.

What's a woman to do in the meantime?

Talk to her doctor. He may recommend a lower-estrogen contraceptive, or other alternative. If you are currently taking an oral contraceptive that contains drospirenone, do not stop taking it without talking to your doctor first.

"All birth control pills increase the risk for thrombosis," says Nicos Labropoulos, M.D., director of the Vascular Laboratory Department of Surgery at Stony Brook University Medical Center. The pill imitates pregnancy symptoms in the body, and therefore increases clotting factors, making a woman more prone to developing clots. 

However, he stresses, the risk by itself is rare. Without other risk factors, only 1 in 3,000 women taking the pill will develop a blood clot, he says. Those other risk factors include: women who have Deep Vein Thombosis (DVT), have had a blood clot before, or have any health conditions which make the blood more prone to clot, such as diabetes.

The pill is an effective method of contraception, but you should be aware of its risks, particularly if DVT or thrombosis runs in your family. Since doctors don't test for such conditions, it's vital to know the symptoms and risk factors of DVT:

Symptoms of blood clot include:

  • Swelling in the extremities
  • New onset persistent pain in the extremities
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath

If you experience any of the above symptoms, contact a healthcare professional immediately. If a blot clot breaks loose, it can travel to the lungs (a pulmonary embolism) and block an artery, a fatal condition.

Factors that put you at higher risk of blood clots include:

  • Being age 35 or older
  • Having a family history of blood-clotting disorders
  • Having high blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight

Steps to preventing blood clots include:

  • Exercise daily (and avoid sitting for long periods of time)
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables
  • Stop smoking



Nicos Labropoulos, M.D., director of the Vascular Laboratory Department of Surgery at Stony Brook University Medical Center.