The importance of annual pill checks

Why do you need your blood pressure taken for the birth control pill?

The first time you are prescribed with the pill, a doctor or nurse will check your blood pressure and review your medical and family history before issuing you with any hormonal contraception. This is important to make sure that the pill is suitable for you and that you don’t fall into any of the at risk categories. 

 

Why does my blood pressure need to be taken? 

One of the risk factors of taking the combined pill is high blood pressure and the risk of developing a blood clot. Women who have high blood pressure are advised against taking the pill as it might exacerbate their condition and put them at increased risk of complications, such as thrombosis (blood clots).

After you’ve been given the pill, you’ll need to have another check up after 3 months, then 6 and then annually after this; providing that there have been no changes to your blood pressure. 

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What are the health risks of taking the pill? 

Taking the pill can increase your risk of a blood clot in either the leg or lung which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. The risk is very small but it can be exacerbated by other factors, for example being overweight or a heavy smoker. The pill has also been linked to breast cancer. 

 

Is the pill safe for me to take? 

The pill is safe for many women to take but it’s not suitable for women who: 

  • Might be pregnant 
  • Are smokers over the age of 35
  • Are significantly overweight
  • Have ever had a blood clot
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have had a stroke
  • Have a family history of blood clots
  • Have heart issues
  • Experience migraines
  • Have a history of breast cancer
  • Have a history of liver disease
  • Are diabetic 

In these cases, the mini pill may be a suitable alternative.


Is the mini pill safer?

The risks associated with the combined pill come from the oestrogen hormone contained in these types of pill. For some women, the extra oestrogen can cause heightened blood pressure or additional side effects. The mini pill doesn’t contain oestrogen which makes it a safe alternative for women in the at-risk groups outlined above. 

 

Can everyone use the mini pill? 

While the mini pill might be safe for most women to use, it might not be recommended in some circumstances. For example, if you: 

  • Are pregnant or could be
  • Get unexplained bleeding between periods
  • Have heart or arterial disease
  • Have had a stroke
  • Have a history of breast cancer or liver disease
  • Have liver tumours

The downside to taking the mini pill is that it doesn’t give you the same control over your period that the combined pill would, so you may experience irregular periods. 

Having your blood pressure checked at least once a year will help to ensure that you are taking the pill safely. Dr Felix can provide 3-6 month supplies of your chosen contraceptive pill but we will need to ensure that your blood pressure is at a healthy level and you have no medical history which might cause issues. 
 

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