Women using alternative contraception to the Pill 'are at double the risk of a blood clot'
06:43 GMT, 11 May 2012
Women using a vaginal ring or skin patch for contraception are at around double the risk of a blood clot compared to those taking the Pill, says a study.
All types of combined Pill slightly increase the risk of the problem of blood clots, which can lead to deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in the leg or arm and potentially fatal pulmonary embolism.
But a Danish study says the risk is higher using other methods of delivering the contraceptive hormones.
Women using the contraceptive patch and ring are at a greater risk of developing a blood clot
Women using the skin patch have an eight times increased risk of venous thrombosis and those using the vaginal ring a 6.5 times increased risk compared with women who do not use any type of hormonal contraception.
This compares with a threefold increase risk of a blood clot among women taking a combined oral contraceptive pill containing the hormone levonorgestrel.
A team led by Professor Xjvind Lidegaard at the University of Copenhagen reviewed data on non-oral hormonal contraceptive use and first-ever venous thrombosis in all Danish non-pregnant women aged 15-49 from 2001 to 2010.
The study said there was still a risk with the contraceptive pill but it was much lower than other methods
The results came from data recording 3,434 confirmed diagnoses of first-ever venous thrombosis.
Unlike combined pills, no reduction in risk was seen with long-term use of a patch or vaginal ring.
Professor Lidegaard said women aged from 30 upwards who use the vaginal ring or the patch might consider swapping to older types of contraceptive pills containing levonorgestrel as they had a lower risk.
He said 'The most important thing is that women are informed about the risk. The ring and the patch is approximately double the risk compared with second generation pills.
'If women still prefer to have a ring or a patch, for example because they are not able to remember to take the pill daily, then they can continue. That is their own choice.
'For me, the important thing is that they are informed about the risk which does not reduce over time.' The sexual health charities Brook and FPA in a joint statement said 'Women of all ages using the contraceptive patch or vaginal ring should know that although the risk of DVT is increased, it's still very small.
'Women with a higher DVT risk wouldn't automatically be given these two methods anyway, as the link between DVT and hormonal contraception has been well known and documented for many years.
'The vaginal ring and the contraceptive patch are safe and trusted methods. Nevertheless we'd advise any woman who is worried not to stop using it and risk pregnancy, but to talk to the health professional who prescribed it to them instead. They can also talk in confidence to Brook and FPA.'