Beyaz is a new type of birth control pill that combines two hormones with a folate B-vitamin, which reduces the risk of birth defects when women accidentally get pregnant. One side effect of Beyaz is gallbladder disease and gallstones. Even young women who haven no history of gallbladder disease or risk factors have suffered from this severe Beyaz side effect. Around half of women with Beyaz gallbladder disease require surgery to have the gallbladder removed.
Beyaz is an oral contraceptive (“the pill”) that uses a combination of synthetic hormones to reduce the risk of pregnancy. Beyaz is one among several “fourth generation” birth control pills to contain a new type of synthetic hormone called drospirenone, a synthetic form of progestin. Beyaz also contains synthetic estrogen, called ethinyl estradiol.
Beyaz contains the same amount of progestin and estrogen as Yaz birth control pills, but Beyaz also contains an added folate B-vitamin supplement. The reason Beyaz contains this supplement is to reduce the risk of birth defects just in case a woman accidentally gets pregnant when she is taking Beyaz.
Experts know that many women do not take birth control pills exactly as directed. To be most effective, pill users must take Beyaz once a day, at the same time, every day. Many women miss doses or do not take the pill at a consistent time. Around 9 per 100 of these women get pregnant. Experts also know that most neural tube birth defects occur because the mother has low levels of folate just before pregnancy. Beyaz reduces the risk of these birth defects.
Beyaz Gallbladder Disease
Experts have associated excess levels of hormones with an increased risk of gallstones and gallbladder disease. Women have at least double the risk compared to a man. Women frequently take hormonal birth control pills, undergo hormone replacement therapy, or get pregnant and have excessively high levels of estrogen in their system.
Gallbladder disease and gallstones are a known side effect of Beyaz, but no one knows exactly how Beyaz causes this disease. There are several theories. One is that birth control pills are a mild diuretic, and prolonged use of diuretic medications is associated with gallbladder disease. It is possible that Beyaz reduces the flow of bile from the gallbladder; retention of bile in the gallbladder can cause inflammation. It is also possible that Beyaz increases the amount of calcified cholesterol that accumulates in the gallbladder and forms gallstones.
What is Gallbladder Disease?
Gallbladder disease occurs when the gallbladder becomes inflamed. Sudden, acute attacks of gallbladder inflammation are called gallbladder attacks, and they can cause extreme abdominal pain that lasts for several minutes or several hours.
The gallbladder is a digestive organ. It is located on the right side of the body, just under the ribcage. It’s primary purpose is to collect bile produced by the liver, remove water from the bile to concentrate it, and then release the bile (and other enzymes collected from the pancreas) into the intestines. Bile helps to emulsify and digest fats.
One of the most common causes of gallbladder disease is gallstones. Gallstones are usually composed of accretions of calcified particles of cholesterol. They can also be formed from other particles in the gallbladder. These accretions may be the size of a grain of sand or as large as a golfball. When gallstones are very large, it is usually necessary to have the gallbladder removed.
Signs & Symptoms of Gallbladder Disease
Gallstones often grow silently, with no symptoms, until the gallstone is large enough to cause problems with gallbladder function. Beyaz gallbladder disease may not be suspected or diagnosed early, because Beyaz users are often young women, who have no history of the disease or risk factors. When gallbladder disease is diagnosed, around half of people will require surgery to remove the gallbladder.
Symptoms of Beyaz gallbladder disease:
- Sudden, severe pain in the upper abdomen (on the right side of the body, under the ribcage
- Gallbladder attacks — pain that lasts for several minutes or hours. This pain may only occur at night. The pain may spread to the back, shoulder, or arm.
- Nausea, vomiting
- Burping, belching