Birth control pills that contain certain hormones have been associated with a higher risk of pseudotumor cerebri (PTC), an increase in pressure inside the brain that can cause headaches, migraines, progressive vision loss, and permanent blindness. Treatment may require surgery to drain fluid from the brain.
What is Yasmin?
Yasmin is a hormonal birth control pill that is sold by Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals. It has been on the market since 2001. Yasmin was one of the first contraceptives to contain drospirenone, which is a new type of synthetic progestin, in addition to ethinyl estradiol (estrogen).
Yasmin and Pseudotumor Cerebri (PTC)
The National Institute of Health warns that certain birth control pills are risk-factors for pseudotumor cerebri (PTC). However, no one knows exactly what causes PTC. One hormone, levonorgestrel, was linked to PTC in 1995.
Symptoms of PTC
- Headaches: Migraines and severely painful headaches are one of the most common symptoms of PTC.
- Vision loss: Progressive and permanent vision problems may include blurry vision, double vision (diplopia), temporary blindness, blind spots, and blindness.
- Papilloedema: Condition involving swelling of the optic disc due to increased pressure on the optic nerve inside the skull.
- Hearing problems: Tinnitus may cause ringing in the ears, “whooshing” noise, etc.
The hormones in Yasmin increase a woman’s risk of venous and arterial blood clots, which can cause stroke (blood clot in the brain). In rare cases, cranial blood clots can obstruct cerebrospinal fluid and increase pressure inside the skull. This condition is known as “secondary intracranial hypertension.”
Migraine headaches are expected to occur in about 11% of women on Yasmin, according to data from clinical trials. Headaches are also one of the most common signs of pseudotumor cerebri. According to the Prescribing Information for Yasmin, women who have severe headaches should be evaluated by a doctor and discontinue Yasmin if necessary.
FDA Warning Letter
In 2003, the FDA issued a Warning Letter (PDF) after finding that ads for Yasmin were “misleading” and “raise significant public health and safety concerns” because they minimize important risk information and imply that Yasmin is superior to other birth control pills.