In the last two decades, dozens of case reports have linked birth control with Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension, a serious medical condition that elevates pressure in the skull, causing migraine headaches, progressive vision loss, and even blindness.
What is Safyral?
Safyral is an oral contraceptive that is essentially the same pill as Yasmin, but with an additional B9 vitamin (folate) that helps prevent neural tube birth defects just in case pregnancy accidentally occurs. Hormones in Safyral include 3-mg of drospirenone (progestin) and 0.03-mg of ethinyl estradiol (estrogen).
What is IIH?
Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH) is a medical condition that elevates levels of cerebrospinal fluid, which puts pressure on the brain and optic nerve. Over time, IIH can cause chronic migraine headaches and permanent blindness.
How is IIH Treated?
The only treatment for IIH is a painful procedure known as a spinal tap, in which cerebrospinal fluid is removed by a needle injected into the spine. More serious cases may need to be treated with surgery to drain fluid from the skull through a shunt.
What is the problem?
Safyral and other hormonal birth control pills may increase a woman’s risk of IIH, but no one knows for sure. The term “idiopathic” means “unknown cause,” and so far there are only a few dozen case reports linking IIH with birth control.
Evidence linking birth control and IIH has been growing for decades. In 1995, New England Journal of Medicine published a study reporting 56 cases of IIH in young women. Most of the women also had vision problems.
Safyral and Blood Clots
Safyral contains drospirenone, a hormone that studies have linked to a 3-fold increased risk of blood clots compared to hormones like levonorgestrel. After these studies were published, the popularity of Safyral declined dramatically.
Unfortunately, blood clots in the brain can potentially increase pressure inside the skull. This complication, secondary intracranial hypertension, occurs when a blood clot physically obstructs the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, according to the Intracranial Hypertension Research Foundation.