Risks of the Contraceptive Pill

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Before you decide to use the contraceptive pill, there are a number of risks that you should be aware of. Although most are rare, there are a number of factors that can increase the risk of these life-threatening conditions such as smoking and obesity.

Blood Clots

The combined pill releases two hormones into your body, which get absorbed by your blood stream. The increase in levels of oestrogen has a big affect on your body, as oestrogen is a coagulant. It makes your blood clot more often than normal so increasing the levels of the hormone will increase the risk of the blood forming blood clots. These blood clots can have serious health implications as especially if they form in the blood vessels that supply the heart and brain as it can block the vessel, stopping blood flow to those organs which in turn leads to a stroke or a heart attack.

Blood clots are a rare risk whilst on the combined pill and they will not affect the majority of women. However, if you have had blood clots in the past or have a family history of blood clots, then this will increase your risk of having one whilst on the pill. Also if you smoke, there is a higher risk of blood clots hence why most doctors will not advise the pill to women over the age of 35 who smoke. Obesity can also add to the risk of venous thrombosis, which form in the deep veins of your leg, causing blockage of the veins.

Arterial blood clots

Blood clots that form in the coronary arteries that lead to the heart are highly dangerous. If the blood clots in these vessels, it reduces the amount of space in the vessel for the blood to flow through. Therefore, less blood is getting to the heart and the heart has to work harder to get its supply. If the blood clot becomes too big, it will block the blood vessel, causing the blood flow to the heart to be completely cut off. If you do not get blood flowing to the heart you will experience a heart attack, which can be fatal.

Venous Blood clots

Blood clots that appear in the veins deep in the leg are called deep vein thrombosis. If you get one of these blood clots forming, you usually get pain down your leg as the blood flow is reduced to those particular tissues. A blood clot in the leg can become fatal if it breaks off and travels around the body to major organs such as the heart lungs or brain. It can lead to pulmonary embolisms or strokes, both of which are life threatening.

Is there an increased risk of cancer?

Although the pill lowers your risk of some cancers, there have been a few links found between its use and cancers. There is a slightly increased risk of developing breast cancer if you have been on the pill for a long period of time due to the higher levels of hormones in your body.  There is also a slight increase in the risk of cervical cancer.

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