A WOMAN has urged others to reconsider taking the contraceptive pill after she was left with a cluster of blood clots on her brain.
Lucie Edwards thought she was suffering from a bad hangover after a family birthday party.
Just three weeks before the party the 25-year-old had started taking the contraceptive pill Microgynon.
The professional horse groomer had previously taken the pill in 2017 but stopped after she felt she no longer needed it.
In November 2019 Lucie was at a party and had two doubles, she said she felt really drunk after the drinks but claimed this was unusual for her.
Lucie had migraine-like symptoms for around three days.
She then became violently ill and was rushed to A&E for a scan.
It was then that doctors discovered a mass of six blood clots on her brain.
Her parents were told to prepare for the worst as doctors waited for Lucy to have a stroke as the blood flow to her brain had been restricted.
Lucie, from Solihull West Midlands said her doctor stated that the pill can cause blood clots, but said they usually don’t cause a mass of them, like the ones found in her brain.
“Before the headaches started, I went to my auntie’s birthday party and usually I handle my drink really well but I had two doubles and felt really drunk – I thought it was weird so I stopped drinking.
“I woke up the next day feeling groggy and started getting sick, which has never happened but I didn’t think anything of it.
“The morning after that, I went to brush my teeth and suddenly felt faint. My head started pounding and I began to see flashing strobe lights, as if I was going to pass out.”
Lucie said it felt as though her head was going to explode but claimed her GP said she had a migraine.
Her symptoms got worse and she went to A&E where they performed a CT scan which didn’t show any abnormalities.
I kept asking my mum to just let me die – if I was strong enough I would’ve probably tried to kill myself because the pain was so horrendous
Health care practitioners then did a scan using dye and found that she had blood clots from the left side of her neck to the top of the brain.
After the scan, medics realised Lucie was in a life-threatening situation and were not sure whether or not she was going to pull through, as an operation was too risky.
Lucie said: “In the first couple of days the doctors were saying to my mum that they didn’t know if I was going to pull through and she just wanted answers but they weren’t sure.
“They were waiting for me to have a stroke but I woke up the day after. I was really weak and I couldn’t talk.
What are the different types of pills and what are the risks?
When it comes to the pill you need to take what's best for you, Dr Sarah Welsh explains the differences and the risks with the two main categories.
here are two main categories of pill, combined oestrogen and progesterone, two main female hormones and the progesterone only pill.
Dr Sarah says the things health pracitioners worry about with the combined pill are:
- blood clots
- blood pressure
"Deep vein thrombosis can start in the legs and move up and could lead to a heart attack or stroke. When doctors prescribe these that’s why we ask about family history and blood pressure, but in the grand scheme of things it’s a small risk".
With the progesterone only pill Dr Sarah says there are fewer risks.
"They can create small cysts on your ovaries. But it’s important to note that there are lots of studies into taking pills and risks of cancer, breast cancer ect, some are higher risk.
"Some studies say there is a risk, but the National Cancer Institute said that these risks will go back to normal after you have stopped taking the pill for 10 years.
"The final risk is that if you fall pregnant there is a higher risk of ectopic pregnancy"
“I kept asking my mum to just let me die – if I was strong enough I would’ve probably tried to kill myself because the pain was so horrendous.”
Lucie said doctors tested her for AIDs and cancer as they didn’t know the cause of the clots.
“They asked my mum if I’d been taking any medication and she mentioned I’d gone back onto the pill, then they realised that was what caused it.”
Looking back at the CT scan, doctors eventually found that the build up of clots had only been there for three weeks which was when they made the relation to the pill – which Lucy had started to take again just weeks before.
She said: “I was discharged after ten days and prescribed blood thinning injections which I had to have in my stomach every night.
“My vision ended up going for two months but there wasn’t anything that they could do, so they hoped my body would get better on its own.
“I was also bound to a wheelchair because if I tried to walk, I’d fall over because of all the pressure in my head.”
Lucy has now been able to stop blood thinning injections and said the doctors said it would be a miracle if the blood clots diminished.
“Thank god they have and it’s all clear”, she added.
“I’ve made everyone that I know aware because I’d hate for anyone to go through this – I wouldn’t even wish it on my worst enemy.
“They said the pain that I would’ve been going through would be worse than child labour.”
She said her family are amazed at her recovery.
Are you at risk of a blood clot?
The NHS states there are a number of factors that could put you at risk of a blood clot.
- staying in or having recently left hospital – especially if you can't move around much (like after an operation)
- being overweight
- using combined hormonal contraception such as the combined pill, contraceptive patch or vaginal ring
- having had a blood clot before
A spokesperson for charity Thrombosis UK said pills such as the combined pill make the blood more "sticky" and because of this they are more likely to cause blood clots.
“We would recommend that individuals should consider avoiding using the ‘combined pill’ but instead discuss with their doctor or nurse, a contraceptive that does not increase the risk of thrombosis.”
A spokesperson for Microgynon manufacturer, Bayer, said: “At Bayer, we take the safety of our products very seriously and we continuously review the safety profiles of our products.
“Combined hormonal contraceptives (CHCs), like Microgynon, are among the most systematically studied and widely used medical products available today.
“Risk of blood clots is increased for women taking CHCs when compared with non-users. This is a well-known class effect of all CHCs as is clearly stated in the patient information leaflet of CHCs. This risk, however, of blood clots in a woman taking a CHC is smaller than the risk of clots associated with pregnancy."
They added that a woman's individual risk is determined by personal factors.
"General risk factors for clots include genetic predisposition, obesity, pregnancy, advancing age and immobilisation (bed rest, a long-haul flight, trauma or surgery).
“The clot risk for a healthy woman is low, whether she takes an oral contraceptive or not. The more risk factors a woman has, the higher her risk might be.
“A woman should discuss their own medical history and known risk factors with her healthcare professional to weigh the risks of blood clots against the need for contraception and determine the contraceptive method best suited for their individual circumstances.”
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