Benign intracranial hypertension has been associated with birth control pills, according to several studies published in the last two decades. This condition can cause migraine headaches, blindness, and other debilitating side effects.
What is Beyaz?
Beyaz is a birth control pill that prevents pregnancy with a combination of two hormones. It also contains a vitamin supplement that significantly reduces the risk of having a baby with a neural tube birth defect in the event of an accidental pregnancy.
Ingredients in Beyaz include:
- Estrogen: Ethinyl estradiol
- Progestin Drospirenone
- Folic acid: Levomefolate calcium (B vitamin)
Benign Intracranial Hypertension (BIH)
Benign Intracranial Hypertension (BIH) is currently known as Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH) because the condition is not benign — many people develop severe complications, such as progressive loss of vision. BIH occurs when there is too much cerebrospinal fluid inside the skull, which puts pressure on the brain and damages the optic nerve.
What Causes BIH?
Beyaz is a risk-factor for BIH, but no studies have found a causal connection. Many medications and diseases are also potential risk-factors. However, no one knows what causes BIH.
Evidence linking birth control pills and BIH has been growing for decades. One of the first studies, published in 1995, identified 56 cases of BIH associated with a birth control implant (Norplanon) containing the hormone levonorgestrel. Birth control containing estrogen and injections of progestin have also been linked to case reports of BIH.
Secondary Intracranial Hypertension
Beyaz contains drospirenone, a hormone that has been associated with up to a three-fold increased risk of blood clots compared to other hormones. In rare cases, blood clots can travel to the brain, obstruct the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, and increase pressure inside the skull. This condition is known as secondary intracranial hypertension, and it is similar to BIH.
- Headache: Over 90% of people with intracranial hypertension report headaches. During clinical trials of Beyaz, headaches or migraines were reported by nearly 6% of women. It is not clear that the complications are related. Headaches from BIH can become progressively worse and more frequent with time.
- Blindness: The most serious complication of BIH occurs when pressure inside the skull damages the optic nerve, causing progressive loss of vision. Other symptoms may include double-vision, blurry vision, enlargement of the blind spot, papilledema (swelling of the optic disc), and more.