Pancreatitis, a severe side effect of Yasmin birth control pills, occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed. It typically causes severe abdominal pain. Prolonged inflammation of the pancreas can cause the organ to hemorrhage, causing severe tissue damage. If this tissue is not surgically removed, there is a high risk of an infection that may spread to nearby organs. Severe pancreatitis can cause permanent disability and death.
Yasmin is an oral, hormonal birth control pill. When the FDA approved Yasmin in 2001, it was the first hormonal contraceptive to contain drospirenone, a “fourth generation” birth control pill. Drospirenone was hailed as a revolutionary ingredient that could prevent pregnancy and improve a woman’s quality of life by treating acne and PMS. Unfortunately, more than a decade of evidence shows that drospirenone may triple a woman’s risk of a blood clot. Another severe, life-threatening side effect of Yasmin is the risk of pancreatitis.
Studies have found that excess hormones are associated with an increased risk of pancreatitis. Yasmin pancreatitis is likely caused by the hormone estrogen, an ingredient in Yasmin birth control pills. Some researchers hypothesize that estrogen can cause pancreatitis by making changes to lipid metabolism. Yasmin may also increase the mount of triglycerides in the bloodstream, or act as a mild diuretic — two risk-factors for pancreatitis.
What is Pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is a digestive gland that is responsible for secreting digestive enzymes responsible for breaking down proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. The pancreas also releases the hormones insulin and glucagon, which help the body absorb and metabolize the nutrients in food.
Acute pancreatitis is the sudden inflammation of the pancreas. If it is not controlled, the inflammation can cause severe damage to the pancreatic tissue. Hemorrhagic pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas starts bleeding. Pancreatic tissue can also be so severely damaged that it beings to die, which is called necrotizing pancreatitis.
When a person has pancreatitis, the biggest risk is that dead pancreatic tissue will become infected. It is very prone to infection. Once this infection begins, there is no clear method of treatment. Many people must undergo surgery to have the infected, dead pancreatic tissue removed. If it is not removed or if the infection is not stopped, it can spread to other organs, causing multiple organ system failure and death.
Signs & Symptoms of Yasmin Pancreatitis
The symptoms of Yasmin pancreatitis may not prompt diagnosis immediately. Many women who take Yasmin are young and healthy, and pancreatitis is unusual in these individuals. Yasmin pancreatitis can occur in women who have no history of pancreatitis or other risk factors for the disease (such as diabetes).
Yasmin pancreatitis symptoms may include:
- Severe abdominal pain, the onset of which may be sudden or gradual
- The abdomen may be sensitive to the touch
- The pain may radiate to the back, shoulder, or other part of the abdomen
- Nausea, vomiting
- Oily, smelly stools
- Ill appearance