June 20, 2012 — Earlier this year, researchers at Stanford University published a paper in the journal HighWire, which linked drospirenone contraceptives to a doubled risk of Irritable Bowel Syndrome compared to levonorgestrel. The researchers found that other contraceptives were not associated with any increased risk of the disease.
The researchers collected data on nearly 1 million women who were using oral contraceptives, looking at rates of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The average woman in the study was 29 years old and had been using oral contraceptives for 247 days. During the study, 3,050 women contracted Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The annual incidence of the disease was 0.46% for women taking levonorgestrel, 0.77% for women taking drospirenone, and there was no increased risk for women who were taking other contraceptives.
Though it is unknown exactly how drospirenone could be linked to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, the proposed hypothesis is that the chemical structure of drospirenone is a derivative of spironolactone, which is known to inhibit tissue repair, and has also been linked to a higher risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. The researchers believe that drospirenone may cause irritation of the gastrointestinal tract, which could produce the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a chronic inflammation and irritation of the gastrointestinal system. It often produces debilitating digestive disorders, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and discomfort. This disease has no known cure, and people who have severe cases may be very sensitive to many different types of food. It can negatively impact a person’s quality of life.
This new research provides more evidence linking drospirenone to severe side effects. Other research has already linked this ingredient to a three-fold increased risk of blood clots compared to other contraceptives, which could cause heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, or death. Unfortunately, were unaware of this risk when they decided to use a drospirenone birth control pill. Now, Bayer is facing nearly 12,000 lawsuits from women who were injured by the severe side effects of this drug.
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