ROXBURY, CT, February 21, 2014 ( – One of America’s top five women in skeletons says she missed her chance at the Olympics because she developed pulmonary embolisms caused by the NuvaRing contraceptive device.

Megan Henry told WFSB TV that she began using the NuvaRing, a small ring which is inserted into the vagina where it releases the hormones estrogen and progestin, in the summer of 2012.

“Within 10 days of taking it,” Henry said, “I had a hard time breathing.”


She said she had no idea that the dangerous device could be the cause of her shortness of breath and continued to use it.

Although she said that the doctor who prescribed the NuvaRing told her about the health risks of using it, and that she read the warnings on the box, she believed that because she was in very good health and did not smoke she need not concern herself about adverse effects.

“I'm extremely fit,” she said. “I eat well, healthy. It did not cause me any alarm whatsoever.”

However, while training in Utah for the Olympics, Henry said her breathing became so labored she could not even hold a conversation.

“It really flipped my world upside down,” she said. “I had a hard time breathing to the point where it was really dangerous. I could have lost my life from it.”

After visits to several doctors who were unable to diagnose her problem, she went to see a respiratory tract specialist in Connecticut, who told her she had blood clots in her lungs and sent her to the emergency room.

Henry said that she was diagnosed with pulmonary embolism and told it was from the birth control device.

“They just said multiple blood clots in both lungs. It looks like if you took paint and splattered it like that, there were just blood clots everywhere,” she said.

The young woman spent ten days in hospital and was told not only that there was long-term damage to her lungs, but that becoming pregnant would be very dangerous for her.

“If I were to have a family,” she said, “I'm a high risk pregnancy. The danger of me having blood clots, and even the fetus, is there, and that's kind of scary to think about.”

Henry said that as a result of her experience she joined a growing number of affected women in lawsuits against Merck Pharmaceuticals, the maker of NuvaRing, and has dedicated herself to get her story and the message about the potentially fatal side effects of this product out to as many women as possible.

“I had to be very persistent,” said Henry. “I had to see five doctors, and if I listened to the first one I may not be here to tell my story.”

Despite the controversy, Merck continues to sell the device, and contraception advocates continue to promote it. Planned Parenthood touts NuvaRing as a “safe, effective, and convenient” form of birth control on its website.

The number of lawsuits against Merck Pharmaceuticals with claims against NuvaRing have skyrocketed over the last three years, increasing from just over 700 in April 2011 to 1,419 in September 2013.

Plaintiffs charge Merck, and subsidiaries Organon Pharmaceuticals and Schering-Plough, with negligence in investigating the device’s side effects, failure to warn users of health risks, falsely marketing the product as “safe” and “effective,” and inadequate design, testing, and manufacturing methods.