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Friday, January 14, 2011

Yaz/Yasmin Birth Control: Serial Killers?

Yasmin is the brand name for a birth control pill that is generically known as drospirenone. It is also a treatment for moderate acne and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) in women. Yasmin is produced by Berlex Laboratories, Inc.(this name changed to Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals in 2008) as an oral contraceptive.

Yasmin works to prevent pregnancy by changing the lining in a woman's cervix making it difficult for sperm to reach an egg and in the uterus making it hard for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterine wall.

Apparently, the jury is still out on whether or not a fertilized egg is considered alive yet. But for some women, this is equivalent to possibly aborting a pregnancy every month instead of preventing one.

Yasmin is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy and has brought Bayer Healthcare $487 million in sales in the US alone with $1.5 billion worldwide. However, it has also been reportedly causing some serious side effects since the FDA approved its use in May 2001. Bayer Healthcare also manufactures Yaz birth control pills.

The main difference between Yaz and Yasmin is in the level of estrogen contained in each pill compared to the level of progestins, specifically desogestrel. Yasmin contains a higher dose of ethinyl estradiol (estrogen) at 30 mcg, while Yaz has only 20 mcg of estrogen. The dosing schedule is different for Yaz as well. Patients are told to take pills with the active ingredient for 24 days and then take the placebo pills for only 4 days.

Most contraceptive pills including Yasmin are on a schedule of taking the pill for 21 days and then 7 days of taking the inactive pill. However, this dosing schedule does not appear to relate to the side effects associated with Yaz. Studies have shown that Yasmin is more dangerous than its predecessor contraceptives containing progestins that are used to prevent pregnancy.

Yasmin increases potassium levels to dangerously high levels, which can create some serious problems with regard to normal heart rhythms and other body functions related to salt and water balance. It also slows down blood flow which contributes to the forming of blood clots. When these blood clots travel to the lungs or the brain, they become serious strokes or pulmonary embolisms.

Other side effects include breast lumps, depression or mood changes, heart attack, high blood pressure, kidney and/or liver damage, migraines, vaginal bleeding and severe allergic reactions including swelling, hives and difficulties in breathing.

If you are taking Yaz or Yasmin and you experience abdominal pain, localized skin swelling or pain, feelings of despair, chest pain, confusion, lightheadedness, breathing difficulties, numbness in the extremities or on one side of your body or any vision problems, seek emergency medical care immediately. This may be a life threatening situation.

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