Two birth control pills, once marketed as “wonder drugs,” may have some very dangerous side effects, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as reported by Bloomberg News. An FDA advisory panel meets this week to review studies on the drugs Yaz and Yasmin after regulators found conflicting evidence concerning the risk of blood clots associated with these oral contraceptives. All birth control pills carry an increased risk of blood clots. However, the agency found that women taking Yaz and Yasmin were 74 percent more likely to experience clots than those on low-estrogen pills. The panel will weigh the risks and benefits of the pills and may ask for more studies on these pills.
Initially introduced by Bayer in 2001, Yasmin used a new form of progestin called drospirenone. It claimed to have fewer side effects than low-standard dose estrogen-progestin pills, which made many women feel bloated and caused mood swings. The makers claimed that Yaz fights acne and prevents a severe premenstrual mood disorder.
But safety questions drew scrutiny in both the U.S. and Europe, and regulators forced Bayer to correct advertisements that overstated Yaz’s benefits.
Other pill brands that contain drospirenone include Beyaz, Safyral, Gianvi, Loryna, Ocella, Syeda, and Zarah.
Regardless of the name, birth control pills carry many side-effects, some serious and even deadly. Along with the increased risk of blood clots, other possible side effects include liver disease, gallbladder disease, stroke, high blood pressure, or heart disease.
Minor side-effects include weight gain, nausea, sore or swollen breasts, spotting between periods, and mood changes. They are not recommended for women who are over the age of 35 and who smoke. All birth control pills generally allow one unplanned pregnancy per year for every 100 women.
In addition, birth control pills may be potentially harmful to men. Dr. Neil Fleshner, a urologic oncologist at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, reviewed United Nations data and found birth control pill use in a country was strongly associated with the number of cases of prostate cancer. More studies are needed, but Dr. Fleshner suspects the hormones, secreted from women’s urine, get into the drinking water supply.