A new study, to be published in the January 20th issue of Journal of the American College of Cardiology, sets out to answer the question of whether newer forms of birth control are safer than the old.
The Women’s Health Initiative study, a section of which was stopped before completion when it became known that women taking HRT (hormone replacement therapy) might be at increased risk of breast cancer and heart disease, has raised awareness of the importance of further study in regards to the safety of women taking hormones.
The study estimates that up to 80% of women have used hormonal contraceptives at some point in their lives. Hormonal contraceptives are used by approximately 19% of women. Since the introduction of the Pill in the 1960’s, women have flocked to this convenient form of birth control. Today, there are several different delivery methods of hormonal contraception, including pills, patches, and rings. But are they safe to use?
That’s the question the study sets out to answer, and the bottom line appears to be that newer formulations of birth control may be safer than the old in terms of heart disease, but may pose a higher risk of blood clots. The study also points out that women are using birth control at older ages, and this factor, combined with a rise in obesity, smoking, and lack of exercise may increase the risk of heart disease and blood clots.
Every woman needs to discuss with their physician their personal risk factors should they decide to use birth control. Being obese, having high blood pressure, smoking, having high cholesterol and leading a sedentary lifestyle are all factors that predispose to heart disease, blood clots, and stroke. The addition of hormones to the mix may raise this risk, and should be carefully considered by every women taking, or considering the use of, birth control.
The study points to the need for continuing research in this area.
Video: OTC Methods of Birth Control from HealthGuru
Birth Control Pill FAQ: Benefits, Risks, and Choices from the Mayo Clinic
Birth Control Methods from Web MD