A Deadly Mix Of Nicotine And Birth Control
Millions of Women in the U. S. Currently Take Birth Control
For the most part, birth control pills are a safe and effective way to prevent conception. There are other uses for the pill other than preventing pregnancy. Doctors routinely prescribe birth control to women with endometriosis to lessen the severity of cramping. Ovarian cysts are treated with birth control. Some women simply take birth control to have a short, predictable cycle. No matter what the reason, there are millions of women of all ages taking hormonal birth control every single day. There isn't a problem with this. The problem lies in the habits of these women.
Smoking While Taking Birth Control
Smoking while taking birth control can not only cause serious permanent health problems, it can kill you without warning. Studies show that even though women know the risks of birth control and smoking, they still choose to smoke. Which makes you wonder - why on earth would someone choose to adversely affect their own health? According to statistics, well over half the women who are on birth control also smoke at least a half a pack of cigarettes a day.
According to health reports women who are under 35 and smoke ten cigarettes a day raise their risk of heart attack, blood clots, or stroke to 1 in 1,000. Women who are over 35 raise it even higher to 1 in 100. Once again, why are there so many women who smoke and take birth control pills?
Perhaps it's because there isn't enough awareness about the seriousness of the issue. It's more of a subtitle than a real risk when you read about it or see it advertised on the television. The drug companies want you to think that it is extremely rare to develop serious side effects from their drug because they will lose money if you take the risk seriously. The plain and simple fact of the matter is that these deadly side effects are a lot more common than they want you to think. And the age range does not matter one iota.
A True Story
Take for instance this 25 year old woman who is perfectly healthy and has quit smoking for almost three months. She has a four year old son and a six week old son. She went to the doctor for her six week post-natal checkup to get put back on birth control (like the doctors recommend). A couple of weeks later she wakes up feeling like she pulled a muscle in her chest. Eventually the pulled muscle pain becomes so severe that she couldn't breathe. She leaves for the hospital not thinking a thing in the world except this muscle must have torn and she needs some steroids to help lower the inflammation.
When she comes back from an MRI in the emergency room, the doctor tells her she has to be admitted because she has bilateral pulmonary emboli. She had no idea what it meant. She's still thinking it can't be that bad, maybe her and her dad can go get some breakfast afterall because she's still starving. The doctor breaks it down in Laymen's terms that she has developed blood clots in both lungs. He said the blood clots developed because of her terrible habit of smoking while taking birth control. And to put it bluntly, she had a 50/50 chance of making it through the night. All she could think about was her children. That woman was me.
How could this have happened to a perfectly healthy 25 year old who had QUIT smoking? Everything I had ever read about the risks of birth control sounded like I had such a small risk that it wouldn't affect me. I spent 12 days in the hospital with nothing but questions. The doctor told me that nicotine makes the blood cells stick together. Birth control pills make your blood thicker. Pregnancy also makes your blood thicker. Even though I had quit smoking my blood was still extremely too sticky from residual nicotine and backed up in my lungs. I was lucky (very lucky) to be alive. He also told me that circulatory problems happen in women younger than you would like to think because of mixing birth control and smoking.
More Women Need to Be Educated on the Risks!
So get the word out there. Tell women that smoking while on birth control can kill them. And it can happen very quickly with no warning whatsoever. Also be sure to tell them that blood clots are more painful than labor pain. I believe there needs to be more light shed on this because it is just brushed to the side. It is so much more common than you think. If you are a smoker and are on birth control stop one or the other. I know it's harder to quit smoking than to stop taking birth control, so until you can quit use something different. Any type of birth control that contains hormones runs this risk. Put yourself first. Think about your health and make the right decision.
I can no longer take hormones for the rest of my life because of this one incidence. I would have never agreed to be placed on birth control pills had I known the risk was that high. My left lung almost collapsed while in the hospital and I developed pneumonia in both lungs, causing hallucinations from a fever of 106. Had I known that the risk and lifelong damage was real, I'd have never made that decision for myself.
Once I go through menopause, I'm going to be one of the very few percentages of women who isn't able to go through hormone therapy to ease the symptoms. All because I was lead to believe that the risk of blood clots was so rare that it couldn't possibly happen to me. But it did happen to me. And I know it has happened to hundreds of other young women who trust their doctors to explain the risks in a better manner than what they do.
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