Women Harmed by Blood Clots while using Combination Hormonal Birth Control in 2013

For women using combination hormonal birth control, it is estimated that

  • 6,000 to 9,000 women in the US experienced a VTE* in 2013
  • 4,000 to 6,000 had a deep vein thrombosis
  • 2,000 to 3,000 had a pulmonary embolism
  • 250 to 360 women died due to a pulmonary embolism and it is unknown how many others died because of another clotting event caused by a DVT.

*  A VTE refers to a blood clot in a vein, either in the deep veins of the legs or a pulmonary embolism. A clot that travels through the veins to the lungs or brain is a life threatening event.

We decided we wanted to see for ourselves what the VTE impact was for women on CHCs, so we decided to do our own research. The table below shows the number of women using various CHC combinations and calculates the estimated number of women who were affected in 2013.  You can click on the tables to view them larger.

All CalculationsAll Calculations for VTE in U.S. Women 2013 (Click here for pdf of All CHC analysis for VTEs in 2013 All Calculations)

The table below shows the average number of women who had a VTE.  An average of 307 U.S. women probably died in 2013 from a pulmonary embolism while using a combination hormonal contraception.

Table 3- Comparing Annual VTE rate

Table 3- Calculations of Number of U.S. Women Harmed in 2013

Details of our study:

We purchased prescription drug data and used data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to calculate the number of women on various combination hormonal birth control.

We used the Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) rates from the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Because the FDA lumps all combination birth control into one set of numbers, it is impossible to see the rates of VTE for individual hormone combinations.  We believe that the EMA published a conservative estimate of the VTE rates for various hormones based on studies available in 2013, which they distributed to every health care provider.

We calculated the number of women using each type of combined hormonal birth control.  We then calculated the number of women who would get a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and those that would get a Pulmonary Embolism (PE) based on information from Contraceptive Technology, a respected contraceptive publication. For example, if 9 women get a VTE, then 2/3 of them (6) will have a DVT and 1/3 (3) will have a PE. We then calculated the mortality rates. 6% of those with a DVT will die; 12% of those with a PE will die.

The estimates are that between 6,000 and 9,000 women in the US experienced a VTE in 2013.  Between 4,000 and 6,000 had a deep vein thrombosis and 2,000 to 3,000 had a pulmonary embolism.  It is also estimated that between 250 and 360 women died because of a pulmonary embolism.  It is likely that as many as 250 and 360 other women died because of other blood clot issues after they developed a deep vein thrombosis.

You can look at the calculations and references yourself.

Next, we decided to see how many pregnant women possibly died due to a VTE (Venous Thromboembolism: Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) or Pulmonary Embolism (PE).  We compare those numbers to the estimated number of women who died while using a CHC. The numbers will surprise you.  Click here.

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