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Does taking the birth control pill increase your stroke risk?

Although a stroke can happen to anyone, some people have a higher risk than others. Understanding your personal risk factors will help you know what steps you can take to cut your chances of having a stroke and may also make you more aware of the symptoms so you act quickly to get to a hospital if you experience them. One risk factor that many people overlook is taking birth control pills. Here’s what you need to know about the link between birth control pills and stroke risk.

How much do birth control pills impact stroke risk?
The risk of having a stroke can be twice as great in women who take birth control pills than in those who do not. This statistic applies even to women who take low-estrogen forms of birth control.

This increased risk is also present in women who do not have any other risk factors for stroke. In women who have additional stroke risk factors who also take birth control pills, the risk may be even higher.

What is the link between birth control pills and stroke risk?
Birth control pills can increase the amount clotting factors in the blood, which in turn makes blood clots more likely to form. Blood clots may travel to the brain and block a blood vessel, which in turn causes an ischemic stroke to occur. Birth control pills are specifically associated with this kind of stroke and do not seem to increase the chances of hemorrhagic strokes.

As the video explains, birth control pills can also cause blood vessels to thicken. This makes them become narrower, which can also contribute to blockages.

Who should stop taking birth control pills?
The only way to decide if birth control pills are safe for you is to discuss your options with your physician. Generally, some physicians recommend that women with a number of additional stroke risk factors consider other forms of birth control. For instance, women who smoke may not be good candidates for birth control pills.

The Women’s Services team at Good Samaritan Hospital can help you weigh all of your options for birth control and make a decision that is right for your specific needs. Request a referral to a physician or learn more about our hospital services in San Jose by calling (888) 724-2362.