June 21, 2012 — A study published earlier this year in Stanford’s HighWire has found the women taking birth control containing drospireonone (an ingredient in Yaz, Yasmin, and more) have twice the risk of developing Irritable Bowel Syndrome compared to women taking levonorgestrel, an older type of progestin. The increased risk was not associated with any other type of progestin.
The researchers analyzed rates of Irritable Bowel Syndrome among nearly one million women, with an average age of 29 years and 247 days of oral contraceptive therapy. A total of 3,050 women developed Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Of these, the annual incidence of the disease was 0.77% for women taking drospirenone, compared with 0.46% for women taking levonorgestrel. Other contraceptives were not associated with the disease.
The researchers hypothesize that the doubled risk could be due to the fact that the chemical drospirenone is a derivative of spironolactone, a substance that is known to increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, and could also inhibit tissue repair. In some women, it is possible that drospirenone could irritate the gastrointestinal tract, leading to symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic disease of the gastrointestinal tract. It can cause severe digestive problems, abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation. There is no cure for this disease, and severe cases can adversely affect quality of life.
This latest study adds to the growing evidence regarding serious side effects of drospirenone. Since Yasmin (the first drospirenone-containing contraceptive) was sold in 2001, more and more women have suffered from blood clots, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolisms, and more. Unfortunately, many of these women allege that they were misled into believing that drospirenone contraceptives were superior to older contraceptives — despite the fact that drospirenone is equally effective at preventing pregnancy, and they have been linked to a three-fold higher risk of blood clots.