Ocella (drospirenone / ethinyl estradiol) is a birth control pill, and a generic version of Yasmin birth control pills. Both Ocella and Yasmin contain 3 milligrams of drospirenone, a “fourth generation” synthetic version of the female reproductive hormone progestin.
Ocella is a hormonal birth control pill that combines synthetic estrogen (0.03-mg ethinyl estradiol) with synthetic progestin (3-mg drospirenone). It is a generic version of Yasmin birth control pills. The major difference between Ocella and Yasmin is that they are sold by different companies; Yasmin is sold by Bayer, and Ocella is sold by the generic drug companies Teva Pharmaceuticals and Barr Laboratories.
Ocella and Stroke
If you take Ocella birth control pills, you have probably heard about the growing amount of evidence linking drospirenone, an ingredient in Ocella, to a significantly higher risk of developing a blood clot. The FDA has recently updated the label on Ocella to warn of this risk.
Ocella blood clots tend to form deep inside the body. When they form in arteries (blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood away from the heart and into major organs and tissues), there is a risk that the blood clot could break away from the wall of the blood vessel, become an embolism, and get trapped inside a major internal organ.
A blood clot is ideal for clogging blood vessels, because that is their intended purpose. They are supposed to clog blood vessels and stop bleeding after an injury. Ocella increases the risk of developing spontaneous blood clots when there is no injury. This increased risk is seen even in women with no history of blood clots or strokes, however, women who smoke and are over 35 have the highest risk.
When a blood clot gets stuck in a blood vessel in the brain, tissues inside the brain do not receive oxygen or nutrients. Without oxygen, brain cells start to die within minutes. This initiates the ischemic cascade, in which oxygen-loss to one part of the brain causes a massive inflammatory response, swelling in the brain, and damage to healthy parts of the brain.
Once brain cells die, there is no way to repair or replace these cells. An ischemic stroke often causes severe brain damage, resulting in physical disability, intellectual disability, coma, and death.
Symptoms of an Ocella Stroke
Almost all birth control pills contain progestin, and are associated with an increased risk of blood clots. With older progestins (such as levonorgestrel), the risk is approximately 4-6 women per 10,000. With the “fourth generation” progestin drospirenone, the risk is approximately 10 per 10,000 women. Though the risk is small, strokes can cause severe disability or death.
If you suffer an Ocella stroke, early treatment is essential. The sooner circulation in the brain is restored, the better the prognosis. Therefore, it is a good idea to know the symptoms of an Ocella stroke. Symptoms vary depending on the part of the brain that is deprived of oxygen. These symptoms may include:
- Headache: This may be sudden, severe, and extremely painful. Or, it may gradually worsen over time. In some cases, severe headaches caused by stokes wake a person from sleep.
- Changes in consciousness: Feeling sleepy, dizzy, fainting.
- Changes in cognition: Sudden memory loss, confusion, forgetfulness, unable to understand speech, unable to read or write
- Sensory changes: Loss or change in senses, including blurry vision, loss of vision, strange tastes or smells, abnormal sensation of temperature or touch
- Muscle weakness: Muscles in the face may droop. The arms or legs may be inexplicably weak. Weakness is usually just on one side of the body
- Tingling, numbness: Usually just on one side of the body
- Poor motor control: Loss of balance, inability to walk, having trouble walking, writing, speaking, swallowing