Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Birth Control Health Center

Font Size

Heart, Stroke Risk Low With Birth Control Pills

No-Estrogen and Lowest-Estrogen Contraceptives Safest, Study Finds
WebMD Health News

June 13, 2012 -- The risk of having a heart attack or stroke is very low for most women who take low-dose hormonal contraceptives, but that risk rises with age, new research confirms.

The study, published online in The New England Journal of Medicine, included more than 1.6 million Danish women. That makes it the largest study ever to examine the impact of different formulations of birth control pills and other forms of hormonal contraception on blood clots that can lead to heart attack and stroke.

Low-Dose Estrogen Pill Safer

Researchers also confirmed that new-generation, low-dose estrogen oral birth control is far safer than early versions of the pill.

"Risk today is significantly lower than it was decades ago in the era of high-dose pills," says University of Copenhagen professor Ojvind Lidegaard, MD, who led the research.

Hormonal contraceptives that did not contain estrogen, such as the progestin-only IUD sold in the U.S. as Mirena, were not found to raise the risk for blood clot-related heart attack and strokes at all.

But birth control delivered via skin patches and vaginal rings was associated with a significantly elevated blood clot risk, similar to that seen in older high-dose estrogen pills.

Two-Fold Increase in Risk

In related research published last fall, Lidegaard and colleagues linked use of new-generation birth control pills containing the progestin hormone drospirenone with a higher risk of blood clots in the legs that can dislodge to blood vessels in the lungs (also known as a pulmonary embolism).

The oral contraceptives Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella contain drospirenone. In April, the FDA concluded that birth control pills containing drospirenone "may be associated with a higher risk for blood clots than other progestin-containing pills." The FDA will put that on the pills' labels.

But in the new study, these products were no more likely to cause blood clots that lead to heart attacks and stroke than any other combination contraceptive.

Age was the single-most important risk factor for developing blood clots related to hormonal contraceptive use.

The researchers followed 1.6 million Danish aged 15-49 from 1995 until 2009. During this time, there were about 3,300 clot-related strokes and 1,700 clot-related heart attacks among the women studied.

Today on WebMD

Here's what to expect.
man opening condom wrapper
Do you know the right way to use them?
birth control pills
Here's what to do next.
doctor and patient
His and her options.
Concerned teenage girl
hospital gown
Birth Control Pills Weight Gain
Ortho Evra Birth Control Patch
contraceptive pills
Young couple looking at each other, serious
woman reading pregnancy test result