The pill that sent me to hospital

1/07/2014

Hi guys. This week Twitter was abuzz with terrible stories about the birth control pills Yasmin and Yaz. I can't say that the content of these articles surprised me but I am shocked that these pills are still on the market. I never wanted to scare anyone but I've decided that I made a mistake in ever keeping quiet about this. Those of you that read the blog know I had some health problems in 2012. I wanted to elaborate on what actually happened and share my story to help other girls like me.

I started taking Yasmin birth control in 2004. The first few months into it, I remember being exceptionally moody but my mom and I wrote it off as typical teenage behaviour. My skin cleared up beautifully, I had super mild or no menstrual cramps and I didn't gain any weight. This pill seemed great and I didn't know any better to question it. Honestly, being on Yasmin seemed pretty awesome and uneventful. I do remember my gynaecologist trying to push me to change to Yaz when that pill came out but since I had heard a few girls complain about its side effects at college, I declined. I was totally satisfied with Yasmin.

In 2012, after eating a couple of Pringles, I began to experience extreme pain in my abdomen. This eventually went away after an hour so I wrote it off and stayed away from Pringles even though once you pop you can't stop, amirite? Anyway, about a month later I had similar pains accompanied by 24 hours of vomiting. My doctor thought that it was a case of food poisoning and it had seemed to have passed quickly so I didn't connect the two episodes. Finally one night I woke up with violent pains under my right rib cage and started throwing up. I began crawling on the floor, unable to deal with the pain. I tried to wait it out but eventually went to hospital where I was put on a drip to combat my dehydration. The next day, the hospital did an ultrasound and found that I had a large gallstone in my gallbladder and told me that I would have to remove the organ or face more attacks like I'd just experienced and put my body at risk of suffering more severe complications. The doctor estimated that the stone had been growing in my gallbladder for 8 years and was quite surprised to see my case. He told me that I wasn't the typical candidate for a cholecystectomy as I was not overweight or over 40. 

I did some research, got a few second opinions and began to discover that girls my age or younger with gallbladder issues all had one thing in common: they all took Yasmin. The timeline my doctor gave me was exactly how long I'd been on the pill and it seemed to be quite a coincidence that women in the US were trying to sue Yasmin's makers for gallbladder disease. At the time, those particular lawsuits were being thrown out of court despite the amount of young girls trying to get compensation. Still, I tweeted about an article connecting Yasmin and gallbladder issues, thinking that I must sound like a conspiracy theorist but I quickly got a reply from another user who told me "My 15 yr old sister takes that pill and had to have her gallbladder removed". Just hearing about some of the FDA controversy had me convinced that I should quit so I stopped taking the pill. At just 23 years old with no previous health problems, my gallbladder was barely functioning when I got it taken out. Removing it was a difficult, painful and costly experience. A little later that year, I had to go to the hospital again, this time for kidney stones. I have 5 stones in total that I still walk around with, hoping that I won't get an attack at an inconvenient time. I'm now convinced that Yasmin is to blame for all of these problems, specifically their unique ingredient drospirenone. Yasmin warns those with kidney issues to not take this pill but is it responsible for actually creating these kinds of problems in otherwise healthy girls?
 

These are the facts:
 

Blood clots are 1.5 to 3 times more likely to occur while on Yasmin than they are on other pills
 

Yasmin and Yaz contain drospirenone, a synthetic hormone and diuretic that elevates potassium in the body to dangerous levels
 

The makers, Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc., have already paid over $1 billion settling lawsuits to those injured by Yasmin/Yaz
 

In 2013, Bayer finally agreed to allocate $24 million for its gallbladder injury cases - however with a cap on damages, girls like me would be only paid out $3000 which wouldn't have even covered my surgery (Speaking of caps on damages, check out the documentary Hot Coffee if this interests you, very good).
 

Now as I said, for almost a decade I had no issue with Yasmin; I loved it and recommended it to friends. When I found out that other girls like me had ran into the same problems I did, I decided that it was better to be safe than sorry and I told my friends to think about quitting or switching. Today, I stand with the hundreds of thousands of other women who have been negatively affected by this contraceptive and I'm telling anyone who will listen to stop taking this pill right now. I feel extremely fortunate to have gotten away with a couple of kidney stones - some girls have gone blind, suffered strokes, had embolisms or died. Consider yourself lucky if you have not been adversely affected by Yasmin but please don't wait around to become another one of its victims. There are many other pills that don't contain drospirenone. Unfortunately all contraceptive pills are risky but I'd rather take a lower chance of developing blood clots, wouldn't you? I personally never want take any kind of contraceptive pill ever again but until then, Yasmin and other pills like it are not an option. 

I hope I helped just one girl out there. Always do research, identify who funds/benefits from research that's out there, know the risks, read warnings and take care of yourselves! x

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