Drug-makers are facing a growing number of lawsuits alleging that Benign Intracranial Hypertension (BIH) is a side effect of certain types of birth control. Unfortunately, delayed treatment can result in severe brain injury, chronic migraine headaches, and incurable vision problems or blindness.
What is ParaGard?
ParaGard is an intrauterine copper contraceptive that contains no hormones and is approved to prevent pregnancy for up to 10 years. It prevents pregnancy because copper causes a mild inflammatory effect in the uterus, which interferes with egg fertilization.
What is the problem?
Benign Intracranial Hypertension (BIH) is a disease that experts do not fully understand. They know it primarily occurs in obese women of childbearing age. They know it involves high pressure inside the skull due to excess cerebrospinal fluid.
However, no one knows what causes BIH. There is no causal connection to ParaGard and studies have not shown an increased risk.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) includes birth control pills in a list of possible risk-factors for BIH. This is because dozens of cases of BIH have been linked to birth control in the last few decades.
Over 56 cases were linked to Norplant, a contraceptive implant, in a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine. In 2014, Bayer was hit with nine lawsuits from women who used the birth control implant Mirena and developed BIH.
Signs & Symptoms
- Migraines: Pressure on the brain can cause headaches that can become severely painful and debilitating. Some cases can be relieved by draining excess cerebrospinal fluid. Without treatment, headaches may become constant.
- Papilledema: Occurs when there is swelling (edema) of the optic disc at the back of the eye. May be diagnosed with an eye exam.
- Vision problems: Most people with BIH report vision problems, such as blurry vision, double-vision (diplopia), peripheral vision loss, or enlargement of the blind spot.
- Blindness: The most severe complication of BIH, blindness occurs when the optic nerve is damaged. It is usually permanent.