A real and dangerous risk to women’s health is the life threatening blood clots that can form as a result of taking birth control pills. My sister, Angela Briggs of Durham, NC survived a recent, eye-opening scare that she has decided not to remain silent about.
On January 5th I was experiencing a terrible pain in my calf that just would not go away. Constantly massaging what I believed to be a pulled muscle, I finally heeded the encouragement of a friend and went to the ER. They sent me home, unable to find any reason for the pain.
Eleven days later I was jolted out of bed at 2am with a crushing pain in my chest. The pain was so intense, it rendered me immobile for the next several hours. By late morning it had eased and I pressed my way to work. But shortly after it returned; a stabbing pain in my chest that intensified with each breath, accompanied by additional pain in my right shoulder and arm.
I’m a pretty strong person but this was undoubtedly getting the best of me so, I left work and proceeded to the nearest Urgent Care. Although the results of the EKG they conducted were normal, they suggested I head directly to the emergency room for additional testing.
At the emergency room a second EKG was performed, which was also normal, so the attending physician decided to test my blood work for clots. About 45 minutes later he returned to explain that my levels were not in the normal range (≤ 0.50 mcg/mL ), but expressed he believed there was no real concern. He ordered a CT scan “just as a precaution,” and said afterwards I’d be on my way home.
Well, the results of the CT scan came back, and I was NOT on my way home. I was admitted into the hospital after discovering that SIX blood clots had traveled to my right lung. The ER physician said in my condition ‘people don’t make it to the hospital.’ Thank God I’m not ‘people‘. Not only had I made it, but I had survived the excruciating 7-hour wait in the ER that day!
The following evening I was discharged home to give myself shots twice a day, followed by a three month course of Coumadin® therapy (oral blood thinners or anti-clotting medication), and was immediately taken off of birth control pills.
Now, for those of you who may read this and think, “surely she had some additional factors at play for clots to form,” let me address that by saying I am very active, exercise regularly, am not obese nor have I ever smoked. I have no family history of blood clots, do not have a single varicose vein, and am neither pregnant nor going through menopause. My ONLY risk factor, was that I was on birth control pills.
There are a lot of articles on the internet that lull women into a false sense of security by downplaying your odds of getting a blood clot from birth control pill use, “Your chance of dying from a blood clot related to your contraceptive is about one in a million.” “The chance you’ll get a blood clot is well below one percent.” “Most women taking estrogen don’t get clots.” And then my personal favorite, “The benefits of birth control pills far outweigh the risk of developing a clot.” Really? Ask any woman whose life has been dramatically changed by a blood clot if it were worth the risk. Ask any parent who has buried a daughter who died of a blood clot after taking birth control pills, if it were worth the risk!
It was not my intention to share my experience publicly, but it’s too important that my sisters get this… Birth Control Pills DO PUT YOU AT RISK FOR BLOOD CLOTS.
Please ladies, if you’re on the pill, do not ignore ANY pain you experience in your body. Get checked IMMEDIATELY! And even if your physician diagnoses you with something else, insist on getting your blood checked for clots