Health experts are warning that certain types of birth control may increase a woman’s risk of developing severe migraines, blindness, and other side effects associated with a condition known as pseudotumor cerebri (PTC).
What is Ortho Evra?
Ortho Evra is a contraceptive patch used for the prevention of pregnancy. Women who use Ortho Evra are exposed to about 60% more estrogen than if they use typical birth control pills. In general, higher levels of estrogen are associated with higher risks of side effects.
What is the problem?
Several types of birth control have been associated with an increased risk of pseudotumor cerebri (PTC), a rare but severe neurological condition that is caused by high levels of cerebrospinal fluid in the skull. PTC puts pressure on the brain, optic nerve, and optic disc, producing symptoms that are similar to a growing brain tumor.
Birth control containing levonorgestrel was associated with 56 cases of PTC in a study published in 1995. Since then, health experts have warned that women on birth control are more likely to develop PTC. Unfortunately, no one knows what causes PTC and it is unknown if Ortho Evra increases the risk of this disease.
Hormonal birth control methods, including Ortho Evra, are associated with an increased risk of blood clots. It is possible to be permanently disabled from complications of a blood clot, such as a stroke. Blood clots in the brain, in rare cases, can also obstruct the flow of cerebrospinal fluid and increase intracranial pressure. Click here to read more.
Headaches and PTC
In clinical trials, 21% of women on Ortho Evra reported headaches, and 2.7% reported migraines. The symptoms of migraine headaches resemble symptoms of PTC — both conditions can cause throbbing pain, light-sensitivity, nausea, and vision disturbances.
The Prescribing Information for Ortho Evra recommends that women who develop new headaches that are recurrent, persistent, or severe, they should be evaluated by a doctor and discontinue Ortho Evra if necessary.
Symptoms of Pseudotumor Cerebri (PTC)
- Headaches: Typically dull, throbbing, located at the back of the head, worst in the morning or at night, and grow progressively worse until they are constant.
- Visual disturbances: Double-vision is commonly reported, which may worsen to include blurry vision, vision loss, temporary blindness, and permanent blindness. One of the most common complications, papilloedema, occurs due to pressure on the optic disc.
- Hearing problems: People with PTC may develop ringing in the eats (tinnitus).
- And more