Birth control patch may increase blood clots, FDA reports

Lisa Moore

Women who use the Ortho Evra birth control patch may have twice the risk of developing blood clots than those who use birth control pills, according to a Food and Drug Administration study.

However, FDA officials emphasized that the study is preliminary. In fact, the results of another study comparing the same topic found no increased risk of clots.

“The FDA is reviewing the studies that were submitted by the company,” said Susan Cruzan of the FDA media relations staff. “The studies had some conflicting information and need to be further evaluated for other risk factors such as smoking, which raises the risks. This is an ongoing study.”

Women who are most at risk are those who smoke, those who are over the age of 35, those who have a family history of blood clots or those who are obese.

“When you are older, your vessels narrow,” said Patti Baller, certified midwife and lecturer in the nurse practitioner program. “When you smoke, your vessels constrict.”

The Ortho Evra birth control patch, the pill and the ring contain two components: Estrogen and progesterone.

The ring provides the lowest dose of estrogen, while women who use the birth control patch are exposed to 60 percent more estrogen than those using the pill. Anytime a women takes estrogen, she increases her risks of developing blood clots, Baller said.

Women who are pregnant are at a high risk for developing blood clots.

“When you’re pregnant, it’s like being on extra-strength birth control,” Baller said.

The Ortho Evra patch is more effective because women only have to remember to take it once a week, Baller said.

Women are advised to discuss the risk with their doctor.

Jessica Straub, a sophomore special education major, said the reports have made her reconsider using the once-a-week birth control patch.

“My doctor tells me I’m a healthy person,” she said. “I think it only affects women who are already at risk.”

Straub said her alternative method of birth control would be less convenient.

“If I switch to the pill every day, I might forget to take it,” she said. “I love the patch because it’s convenient.”

Contact news correspondent Lisa Moore at [email protected]