Do you use Ocella birth control pills? If so, you may have heart that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that it will be updating the label on Ocella. The new labeling will warn women that an ingredient in Ocella (drospirenone) has been associated with a higher risk of blood clots.
The “active” Ocella birth control pills contain the hormonal ingredients:
- 3-mg drospirenone, a “fourth generation” synthetic progestin
- 0.03-mg ethinyl estradiol, synthetic estrogen
These ingredients are the same that are in Yasmin birth control pills. In fact, Ocella is a generic version of Yasmin. By law, generic medications must have the same active ingredients as their brand-name alternative. The biggest difference is that Ocella is usually cheaper than Yasmin, and they are sold by different companies. Both Yasmin and Ocella have the same risks, benefits, and side effects — including the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis.
Ocella and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Ocella increases the risk of a particularly dangerous kind of blood clot. Unlike surface blood clots, which the body filters out before they can cause organ damage, Ocella blood clots form in Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), a life-threatening condition where clots form in veins deep inside the body. The most common location is in the lower leg, though Ocella DVT blood clots can also form in large veins in the thighs, pelvis, upper arms, or another part of the body.
On its own, DVT blood clots are not life-threatening. However, if these blood clots break loose, they can easily cause severe organ damage, organ failure, or death. Once an Ocella DVT blood clot forms, it may be difficult for the body to dissolve the clot independently. Over a few days, or sometimes just a few hours, the clot can grow larger and larger. After it begins to block the blood vessel, blood pressure increases significantly behind the clot. With enough pressure, the blood clot can break loose (called an embolism) and it begins to move toward the heart and lungs.
A vein is a blood vessel that brings oxygen-poor blood used by the body toward the heart. The heart then pumps this used blood into the lungs, where it comes in contact with oxygen. Then, the heart pumps fresh, oxygenated blood back into the body. When a DVT blood clot becomes an embolism, it can travel to the heart and into the lungs. Blood vessels inside the lungs get very small. An embolism gets trapped inside these small vessels. This condition is called a pulmonary embolism. Within minutes, an Ocella DVT blood clot can cause lung tissue to begin dying. If untreated, the lungs may become severely damaged, leading to organ failure and death.
Symptoms of Ocella Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
All birth control pills that contain progestin increase the risk of having a blood clot. There is strong evidence linking the progestin in Ocella to a higher risk of blood clots compared to other birth control pills. It is a good idea to be familiar with the symptoms of DVT blood clots just in case you suffer this Ocella side effect. However, you should also be aware that DVT does not always cause symptoms. Any time DVT is suspected, this is an emergency situation.
Common symptoms of an Ocella DVT blood clot include:
- Discoloration of the affected part of the body (such as one leg)
- Pain in the affected extremity
- Swelling in the limb
- Warmth in the area of the blood clot
- Superficial veins may look engorged
- Weakness, tingling, or abnormal sensation in the affected limb
Treatment for Ocella DVT Blood Clots
The goal of treating Ocella DVT blood clots is to prevent the blood clots from growing larger. This, in turn, reduces the risk that the blood clot will become an embolism and cause a pulmonary embolism, organ damage, or other severe side effect. Most of the time, this is achieved using an anticoagulation medication such as heparin or warfarin. However, in cases of severe DVT, these medications may not be sufficient to stop the clot. If the clot is large, or not responding to anticoagulant medications, or if symptoms do not improve, a doctor may be forced to use an aggressive, intravenous, clot-busting drug. Because these drugs have a high risk of serious bleeding, they are only used when an Ocella DVT blood clot is life-threatening.