For women who chose to exercise their right to birth control there are serious health factors put into consideration when choosing what type of contraceptive to use. Among the most popular choices are birth control pills and vaginal rings.
Both carry some degree of health risk and these products are frequently named in lawsuits as having side effects that, for some women, can be life threatening.
This discussion will focus on vaginal rings, in particular the NuvaRing because it has been the subject of so many lawsuits filed by women suffering NuvaRing blood-clotting problems that the federal court system has been forced to consolidate them into what are called multi-district litigations. Read more here.
These NuvaRing lawsuits claim that clots have led to heart attacks, strokes, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolisms and other life-threatening problems for which victims should be awarded compensation for health problems, loss of wages, medical costs, pain and suffering and other expenses.
Pharmaceutical giant Merck now acknowledges these dangers on its NuvaRing web site on which it posted the following warnings:
- The use of combination oral contraceptives is associated with increased risks of several serious side effects, including blood clots, stroke, or heart attack. NuvaRing is not for women with a history of these conditions. The risk of getting blood clots may be greater with the type of progestin in NuvaRing than with some other progestins in certain low-dose birth control pills. It is unknown if the risk of blood clots is different with NuvaRing use than with the use of certain birth control pills.
- NuvaRing is not for women with certain cancers or those who may be pregnant.
- NuvaRing does not protect against HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases.
- The most common side effects reported by NuvaRing users are: vaginal infections and irritation, vaginal secretion, headache, weight gain, and nausea.
On the same web site, Merck also discusses the dangers of blood clots, strokes and heart attacks:
The hormones in NuvaRing may cause changes in your blood clotting system which may allow your blood to clot more easily. If blood clots form in your legs, they can travel to the lungs and cause a sudden blockage of a vessel carrying blood to the lungs. Rarely, clots occur in the blood vessels of the eye and may cause blindness, double vision, or other vision problems. The risk of getting blood clots may be greater with the type of progestin in NuvaRing than with some other progestins in certain low-dose birth control pills. It is unknown if the risk of blood clots is different with NuvaRing use than with the use of certain birth control pills.
Strokes and heart attacks
Hormonal contraceptives may increase your risk of strokes (blockage of blood flow to the brain) or heart attacks (blockage of blood flow to the heart). Any of these conditions can cause death or serious disability. Smoking greatly increases the risk of having strokes and heart attacks. Furthermore, smoking and the use of combination hormonal contraceptives, like NuvaRing, greatly increases the chances of developing and dying of heart disease. If you use combination hormonal contraceptives, including NuvaRing, you should not smoke.
Finally, on the same web site Merck warns NuvaRing users of dangerous symptoms:
Possible signs of a serious problem
Call your doctor right away if you get any of the symptoms listed below. They may be signs of a serious problem:
- Sharp chest pain, coughing blood, or sudden shortness of breath (possible clot in the lung)
- Pain in the calf (back of lower leg; possible clot in the leg)
- Crushing chest pain or heaviness in the chest (possible heart attack)
- Sudden severe headache or vomiting, dizziness or fainting, problems with vision or speech, weakness, or numbness in an arm or leg (possible stroke)
- Sudden partial or complete loss of vision (possible clot in the eye)
- Yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice), especially with fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, dark-colored urine, or light-colored bowel movements (possible liver problems)
- Severe pain, swelling, or tenderness in the abdomen (gallbladder or liver problems)
- Sudden fever (usually 102°F or more), vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, fainting, or a sunburn-like rash on the face or body (very rarely, toxic shock syndrome)
- Breast lumps (possible breast cancer or benign breast disease)
- Irregular vaginal bleeding or spotting that happens in more than 1 menstrual cycle or lasts for more than a few days
- Urgent, frequent, burning and/or painful urination, and cannot locate the ring in the vagina (rarely, accidental placement of NuvaRing into the urinary bladder)
- Swelling (edema) of your fingers or ankles
- Difficulty in sleeping, weakness, lack of energy, fatigue, or a change in mood (possible severe depression)