JACKSONVILLE, Florida, September 14, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – A young mother's birth control pills helped cause her to have a stroke.
Bethany Fonseca has a history of migraines, but one particular day, her headache was different. She took pain medication and was about to enter the shower when the room starting spinning and she fell on the floor.
“I thought I was going to die,” Bethany said. “My only thought … was just, 'Let me see my kids again one more time.'”
She tried getting up but kept falling on the floor. Eventually, an ambulance took her to Baptist South hospital. “They ran some tests, and they wanted to discharge me, but … I know what migraines feel like and this wasn't normal,” she said. “The neurologist then did a stroke assessment, and I knew right then that something was wrong.”
The neurologist later told her she had a stroke, very close to her brain stem. He told Bethany that her stroke was caused by her history of migraines, a hole in her heart, and her birth control pills.
A week later, after being discharged from the hospital, Bethany spent a week at Brooks Rehab, working with physical therapy assistant Michael Greene. Greene pushed Bethany harder than anyone else, helping her strengthen areas weakened by her stroke.
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Greene says he's helped four women who have suffered strokes as a result of birth control pills. “A lot of people overlook the fact that [the pill bottle warns] it can cause a stroke,” Greene explained. “And because she was so young, she thought she would not be affected by it.”
Stroke is the third leading cause of death for women in the U.S. and is sometimes caused by birth control. The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association have published guidelines warning against the increased risk of stroke birth control may have on some women.
Medical researchers have found that birth control pills increase blood pressure in some women. Especially in younger women, a combination of birth control pills and smoking increases the risk of heart disease by 20 percent.
The American Stroke Association warns that women who take even a low-estrogen birth control pill may be twice as likely to have a stroke than those who don't, and the risk may increase if other risk factors are present.
A month after the stroke, Bethany was able to drive again, and eventually she became able to do normal activities again.
Now Bethany wants to become a physical therapy assistant. “I feel like if I can touch one person and help them realize that this does happen, it could change their life. This is a big lesson that tomorrow is not guaranteed,” she said.