Science

Taking Painkillers While on Birth Control Raises Blood Clot Risk

Women who use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers and hormonal contraceptives have a higher risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE), reveals a Danish study published in The BMJ. Researchers have urged that while the absolute susceptibility of developing a severe blood clot remains low, women should be properly informed. The study was based on national medical records, and it was conducted to determine the link between NSAIDs and the risk of blood clots in women using hormonal contraception.

The research found that combined oral contraceptives that contained third or fourth-generation progestins presented higher risks, while women using progestin-only tablets, implants, and coils, along with NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, diclofenac, and naproxen, had lower risks. The absolute risk is low, even for those using high-risk hormonal contraception. However, since both hormonal contraception and NSAIDs are widely used, it is essential for women to be made aware of this potential drug interaction.

A total of 2 million women in Denmark between the ages of 15 and 49 years were tracked for this study. High-risk hormonal contraception included combined estrogen and progestin patches, vaginal rings, and pills containing 50 mcg estrogen or third or fourth-generation progestins. Medium-risk contraception included other combined oral contraceptives and the medroxyprogesterone injection. Progestin-only tablets, implants, and hormone intrauterine devices (coils) were classed as low or no risk. Furthermore, NSAIDs were used by 529,704 of the women while using hormonal contraception.

By monitoring the women over an average of 10 years, the researchers found that NSAID use was associated with an increased risk of venous thromboembolic events in women. The study suggests that healthcare authorities should include these findings in their safety assessment of over-the-counter diclofenac and that women using hormonal contraception should consider alternatives to NSAIDs for pain relief.

The study concludes that if NSAID treatment is required, agents other than diclofenac appear to be preferable and should be used along with lower-risk hormonal contraceptives. This comprehensive study was funded by the Danish Heart Foundation, and its findings are especially crucial for women who require hormonal contraception and regular use of NSAIDs.

One of the researchers, Morten Schmidt, from Aarhus University Hospital, recommends that the findings be taken into consideration by healthcare authorities and that alternatives to NSAIDs for pain relief should be considered for women using hormonal contraceptives. It is vital to inform women about the risks associated with hormonal contraception and NSAIDs and to carefully consider safer options when needed.

Overall, women should be fully informed about the potential risks of using NSAIDs in combination with hormonal contraceptives so they can make the best decisions about their health. The research underlines the significance of raising awareness of the possible risks associated with hormonal contraception and NSAID use to ensure women’s health and well-being.

Emma Sinclair

Dr. Emma Sinclair holds a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from a prestigious university, where she specialized in the study of exoplanets. With a passion for science communication, Dr. Sinclair transitioned from academic research to journalism to make complex scientific concepts accessible to the general public.
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