Doctors warn birth control pill may increase risk of blood clots from COVID-19
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PORTLAND, Maine, August 5, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― A recent paper has suggested that women who use the birth control pill may be particularly susceptible to blood clots if they contract COVID-19.
Doctors Daniel I. Spratt, an endocrinologist, and Rachel J. Buchsbaum, a hematologist, published “COVID-19 and Hypercoagulability: Potential Impact on Management with Oral Contraceptives, Estrogen Therapy and Pregnancy” in the Endocrinology journal on July 29.
The physicians wrote that one of the consequences of contracting the coronavirus seems to be an increased risk of blood clots.
“The novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, has proven unusual with respect to the spectrum of its pathological effects,” they wrote.
“In addition to damage inflicted on the lungs, kidneys, heart and other organ systems, reports have emerged of hypercoagulable states in patients hospitalized with COVID-19.”
These clots and their travels from one part of the body to another “occur with a troublesome frequency” in coronavirus patients, they added.
Given this situation and other emerging COVID-19 research, the authors suggest there may be a chance that risk of blood clots and strokes for pregnant women and those using the pill or hormone replacement therapy is heightened by the virus.
“As more information emerges regarding the effects of SARS-CoV-2 on coagulation, questions arise as to whether infection with this virus aggravates the risk of [venous thromboembolic events (VTEs)] and strokes associated with combined oral contraceptives (COC’s) and other estrogen therapies as well as pregnancy-associated risks,” they wrote.
High doses of estrogen already have their dangers, and not just for older women and, for that matter, not just for women.
The doctors noted that contraceptive pills are linked to a “2- to 6-fold increase in risk for VTEs.”
“The risk for stroke is increased in young women from about 4 to 8 in 100,000 women per year,” they wrote.
“Similar data exist for oral hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in menopausal women and oral estrogen therapy in male-to-female transgender patients [sic].”
Pregnancy also carries a heightened risk for VTEs, they wrote, increasing 4-5 fold.
The doctors added that, although there is no “clear data” to support this advice, it is commonly recommended that people stop taking estrogen two weeks before they do something that could also increase their risk of blood clots, like surgery or long flights.
Spratt and Buchsbaum also noted there have so far been no reports of increased incidents of VTEs among women with coronavirus who are pregnant or using estrogen products. However, one “preliminary report” has suggested that “vascular abnormalities in the placenta” can accompany a COVID-19 infection. Also, given the relationships between the virus and blood clots, the doctors believe that more research must be done for women already at a higher risk for the latter.
Their questions include concerns for the effect of the coronavirus’s tendency to cause hyperinflammation on the health of unborn babies, as well as the measures that should be taken to reduce the risk of blood clots to pregnant women, women who use estrogen products, and women with the virus.
The doctors stressed the importance of these questions by predicting that the novel coronavirus will be around for years to come.
“We do not know how long the current pandemic will endure and can be reasonably certain that, like the H1N1 virus causing the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic, SARS-Co-V-2 will return cyclically for years if not decades,” they wrote.
“Thus, the importance of undertaking research to answer these questions will continue with findings likely to be applicable in a wide range of clinical situations.”
As yet doctors do not know why or how the virus has an impact on blood coagulation. Spratt and Buchsbaum called for researchers and clinicians, and for endocrinologists and hematologists to work together to find the answers.
Rachel J. Buchsbaum, MD, is the Director of the Cancer Center and Chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. Daniel Spratt, MD, works in the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine.
LifeSiteNews reached out to Dr. Spratt for further comment today and is awaiting a reply.