Pseudotumor cerebri (PTC) is a life-threatening brain injury that can cause migraine headaches and permanent blindness. In the last two decades, certain birth control pills have been linked to this side effect.
What is Ocella?
Ocella, a birth control pill, is the generic version of Yasmin. Both drugs contain a combination of the hormones estrogen (ethinyl estradiol) and progestin (drospirenone). Ocella was approved by the FDA in 2008.
Ocella and Pseudotumor Cerebri
It is unknown what causes pseudotumor cerebri (PTC), but health officials have warned that PTC is a side effect of certain birth control pills. In 1995, a study linked PTC to levonorgestrel, a hormone in certain contraceptives.
What is Pseudotumor Cerebri (PTC)?
Pseudotumor cerebri (PTC) is a brain injury that occurs when excess amounts of cerebrospinal fluid put pressure on the brain. The effects are similar to a growing brain tumor. Treatment for PTC may require surgery to implant a shunt and drain excess fluid from the brain.
Symptoms may include:
- Headaches: About 10.7% of women on Ocella develop migraine headaches, according to the Prescribing Information. Migraines are also one of the most common symptoms of PTC.
- Blindness: PTC can put pressure on the optic nerve and the optic disc (called “papilloedema”). This can cause progressive and permanent blurry vision, double-vision (diplopia), blind spots, and permanent blindness.
- Hearing problems: PTC is associated with tinnitus, a hearing disorder that can cause ringing, “whooshing,” or other hearing problems.
Ocella contains hormones that are associated with a higher risk of arterial blood clots. If these blood clots travel to an artery in the brain, they could potentially obstruct the flow of cerebrospinal fluid and increase pressure inside the skull. This could lead to a condition known as “secondary intracranial hypertension.”