For Patients

I'm a woman using contraceptives.

Birth Control Pill

What do I need to know?

The risk for developing blood clots is increased if you are on the birth control pill, patch or ring.  If you are a woman either using or considering use of contraceptives, there are things you may wish to know about blood clots.

1.  Know your family history for clotting

Know whether you have a family history of clots.  If you do have a family history of clots, tell your doctor as estrogen-containing contraceptives (pill, patch, or ring) and some of the progestin contraceptives (pill, injection, rod) may not be the right option for you.

2. Smoking

If you are a smoker and want to take contraceptives, be aware that your risk of clots is increased.

3. Obesity

If you are obese and want to take contraceptives, be aware your risk of clots is increased.

4. Surgery

If you have surgery, tell your surgeon that you are on oral contraceptives.

5.  Risk associated with specific contraceptives

  • Know that all estrogen-containing birth control pills, rings and patches increase the risk for blood clots.
  • Know that 3rd generation pills (containing the progesterone Desogestrel: Mircette®, Apri®, Desogen®, Ortho-Cept®) and the birth control Ortho Evra® patch have a 2x higher risk of venous blood clots (DVT and PE) than 2nd generation pills (examples: Ortho Tri-Cyclen®, and others).
  • Know that drospirenone containing pills (Yasmin® Yaz®) may have a 2-3x higher risk for blood clots than 2nd generation pills (examples: Ortho Tri-Cyclen®, and others).
  • Know that 2nd generation pills (pills containing the progestin levonorgestrel) also increase the risk of blood clots.
  • Know that progestin-only pill, injections, and rods (minipill, Depot Provera®, Implanon® rod) also appear to increase the risk of blood clots.
  • Know that IUDs releasing progestins (Mirena®, Skyla® IUDs) do NOT appear to increase the risk for blood clots.
  • Click here for more discussion on the Clot Connect education blog about specific oral contraceptives and blood clot risk.

6. Be aware of leg or chest symptoms that could indicate a clot. 

Contraceptive use is a risk factor for developing blood clots.  Know the symptoms and seek medical care right away if you suspect a clot.  

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): 

A clot that typically is in one leg (can also occur in unusual sites, such as veins in the arm, abdomen or around the brain). Symptoms range from mild to severe; may involve the foot, ankle, calf, whole leg or arm. The classic symptoms are:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Discoloration (bluish or reddish)
  • Warmth

Pulmonary Embolism (PE):

A blood clot in the lungs.  The classic symptoms are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain (may be worse with deep breath)
  • Unexplained cough (may cough up blood)
  • Unexplained rapid heart rate

If you suspect a blood clot, seek medical attention right away.  Don't delay.