Ocella (generic Yasmin) is an oral contraceptive that contains a combination of two synthetic hormones — drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol. Unfortunately, the hormones in Ocella are associated with an increased risk of acute pancreatitis, which is a sudden and severe inflammation of the pancreas.
Ocella is a generic medication that is used to reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy. Its brand-name equivalent is Yasmin. Both Yasmin and Ocella contain equal amounts of two synthetic hormones — ethinyl estradiol (estrogen) and drospirenone (progestin).
The criticism surrounding Ocella stems from the hormones in this medication. Some studies have linked drospirenone to a three-fold increased risk of blood clots. The hormones in Ocella are also associated with an increased risk of pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis is a known side effect of Ocella birth control pills. It is not known exactly how hormonal contraceptives influence the pancreas, but some researchers hypothesize that the estrogen in Ocella makes changes to they way the body metabolizes lipids. It is also possible that this metabolic change includes increased levels of triglycerides floating in the bloodstream. Ocella has a mildly diuretic effect, and over time, this could increase the risk of acute pancreatitis.
What is Pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis is a sudden, severe inflammation of the pancreas, an essential digestive organ that is responsible for secreting digestive enzymes and metabolic hormones, such as insulin and glucagon. Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic.
When the pancreas becomes severely inflamed, parts of the pancreas may begin bleeding. This is called hemorrhagic pancreatitis. The bleeding tissue may disrupt the blood flow to otherwise healthy sections of the pancreas, causing these sections to become oxygen-starved. Within minutes, pancreatic tissue begins to die. This is called necrotizing pancreatitis.
A damaged pancreas spills caustic digestive enzymes into the abdomen, causing severe damage to the fatty tissues surrounding the pancreas. This dead tissue is the source of most problems with pancreatitis. Dead (or necrotic) pancreatic tissue is highly susceptible to infection. An infection in the pancreas can quickly spread to the blood or nearby organs. If it progresses, this can lead to multiple organ system failure, permanent disability, or death.
Symptoms of Ocella Pancreatitis
- The sudden or gradual onset of severe pain in the abdomen
- The abdomen may be very tender and sensitive to the touch
- Pain may radiate to the back, shoulder, or arms
- Nausea, vomiting
- Oily, smelly stools
- Ill appearance
Treatment & Prognosis for Ocella Pancreatitis
Most people who suffer from pancreatitis must go to the hospital. Treatment will involve fasting (not eating food), which relieves the pancreas of its normal function of digesting food. Because the condition is severely painful, pain medication is usually administered.
Treatment depends on the stage of pancreatitis. Aggressive treatment of any infection is key for patient survival. Surgical removal of diseased pancreatic tissue is often necessary. Support for kidneys, lungs, and heart in an intensive care unit may be necessary.