Posted: 01/02/2016

Birth Control & Migraines: A Dangerous Combination?

Birth_control_medication

Women who suffer from migraines and are taking dual hormone forms of birth control may be at significant risk for a cardiovascular event according to the American Academy of Neurology. This new report warns women that experience migraines with aura and are taking birth control medications that combine two hormones, like Yaz and NuvaRing, are more likely to a suffer a stroke. Migraine sufferers experience headaches that cause intense throbbing pain that can be accompanied with symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound in some patients. A migraine with aura however, causes visual disturbances that can result in a temporary loss in vision. This particular symptom manifests 10-60 minutes before the actual headache, but can last for up to an hour in some patients. The uncomfortable sensation of losing vision and throbbing pain can debilitate a person temporarily, and can significantly impact everyday life for some.

Migraines & New Birth Control
Contraceptives, like Yaz and NuvaRing contain two hormones, estrogen and progestin, that help women prevent pregnancy by inhibiting the release of eggs from the ovaries. The report analyzed the health records of roughly 140,000 women taking birth control medications containing two hormones, and it revealed that women who suffer from migraines have reported serious cardiovascular events like blood clots and strokes. However, women who experience migraines with aura are at much greater risk for stroke when compared to other migraine sufferers. During menstruation, women experience an increase in migraine headaches when estrogen levels drop, but the severity decreases when progestin and estrogen is introduced, the common active ingredients in contraceptives. While these new birth control methods may alleviate some of the migraine side effects, the risk for blood clots that can lead to an ischemic stroke go up. A cardiovascular event like a stroke can lead to permanent damage that can cause facial deformities where one side of the face droops or feels numb, and can cause speech difficulties, paralysis, and muscle weakness in the body. Blood clots can also cause more serious events like a pulmonary embolism, where one or more arteries in the lungs become blocked, and can lead to cardiac arrest.

Safer Birth Control for Migraine Sufferers  
The American Headache Society recommends that women should not take birth control containing estrogen and progestin to avoid blood clots and stroke if they experience migraines. In particular, women who are obese, smoke, and have a history any type of migraines, hypertension, high cholesterol, or low HDL cholesterol should avoid combination birth control medications. It is recommended that women who suffer from migraines with aura take oral contraceptives that contain low dose, 35mcg or less, ethinyl estradiol like Loestrin, available by prescription. To avoid any seriously complications related to taking birth control, it is important to disclose all health history with physicians before starting any medication. 

By HelpRx Staff Writer

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