Birth Control Patch May Up Clot Risk
Finding Is Preliminary and Needs More Study, Experts Caution
WebMD News Archive
'Fairly Unusual Events'
All hormonal contraceptives carry some degree of clotting risk, Shames says.
He calls blood clots "fairly unusual events."
The FDA currently isn't seeking any changes in the patch's labeling, Shames
says. He adds that last November, the patch's labeling was updated to note that
its total estrogen exposure is about 60% higher than with oral
The clinical importance of higher estrogen exposure with the patch isn't
known yet, Shames says.
"For some people, the patch may be better because some people don't
reliably take the pill or they don't want to take the pill, or they forget the
pill," he says. "The patch does offer them some alternative for
contraception." On the other hand, Shames says the new findings need to be
It's important to share new information on drug safety quickly, but that may
mean releasing information before final analysis is done, Shames notes. "If
there is a downside to being more transparent, this may be it," he
WebMD spoke with Sutel Pardanani, MD, of the obstetrics, gynecology, and
women's health department at New York's Montefiore Medical Center.
"I think this data is very new," Pardanani says. "It's important
to take this information in its context and really follow up the information in
the next few months to see if this truly is a concern."
Pardanani encourages women using or considering the patch to talk to their
"I would actually have these women who are on the Ortho Evra patch to
contact their physicians before this turns into a panic of sorts, just to
discuss this risk," Pardanani says, stressing that women should remember
that the facts aren't final yet, that all hormonal contraceptives carry
clotting risk, and that no one is certain yet how the patch rates in that
Discuss Risk Factors
Before using any hormonal contraceptive, women should discuss their risk
factors with their doctors, Pardanani says. Those risk factors include smoking
-- especially for women age 35 and older -- and family history of recurrent
Pardanani also suggests that women report symptoms such as leg pain, chest
pain, shortness of breath, or swelling or redness in either leg to their
doctors. However, she cautions that clotting symptoms "may be even more
subtle than that, so I would actually have the patient contact her physician to
go through the whole list of things."