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Ocella (drospirenone / ethinyl estradiol) is a birth control pill that has been linked to a higher risk of gallbladder disease and gallstones. This painful, debilitating Ocella side effect may necessitate surgery to remove the gallbladder.

Ocella Overview

Ocella is a generic version of Yasmin birth control. It is a once-daily, oral, hormonal contraceptive that reduces the risk of pregnancy by making temporary changes to a woman’s reproductive organ. Specifically, Ocella inhibits ovulation and makes changes to the lining of the uterus and the cervix.

Each “active” ocella tablet contains a mixture of synthetic hormones. Ocella contains 3-mg of a synthetic type of progestin, called drospirenone. Ocella also contains 0.03-mg of synthetic estrogen, called ethinyl estradiol.

Ocella Gallbladder Disease

Ocella is a hormonal birth control pill. High levels of hormones (especially estrogen) have been associated with an increased risk of gallbladder disease and gallstones. In fact, women are twice as likely as men to get gallbladder disease. The reason is because women frequently use hormonal contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy, or have very high levels of hormones following pregnancy.

There are several theories about what causes Ocella gallbladder disease. The hormones may be a mild diuretic, and experts know that prolonged use of diuretics can increase the risk of gallbladder disease. Ocella may increase the amount of calcified cholesterol that accumulates in the gallbladder and creates gallstones. Ocella may also reduce movement of bile from the gallbladder, which increases the risk that gallstones will get trapped in the bile duct and cause inflammation.

What is Gallbladder Disease?

Gallbladder disease is an illness that affects the gallbladder. This digestive organ is located just beneath the liver, on the right side of the upper abdomen, beneath the ribcage. It is responsible for receiving bile produced by the liver, storing it, concentrating it, and then releasing it into the intestines after a person eats a meal. Bile helps the body break down fats during digestion.

Gallstones are the most common gallbladder problem. A gallstone is a hard accretion of particles. These accretions may be as small as a grain of sand, or as large as a golfball. There may be just one gallstone, or so many that they fill the entire gallbladder. Gallstones can become stuck in the bile duct or the pancreatic duct, which can cause sudden, intense pain in the abdomen. Many people who have gallstones need to have their gallbladder removed.

Signs & Symptoms of Ocella Gallbladder Disease

Delayed diagnosis of Ocella gallbladder disease is common, because many women who develop this side effect are young, have no history of the disease, and have no risk factors. It is usually diagnosed when inflammation of the gallbladder causes excessive pain in the abdomen.

Symptoms of Ocella gallbladder disease include:

  • Pain in the upper abdomen, just beneath the ribcage on the right side of the body
  • Gallbladder attacks — pain that lasts for a few minutes, a few hours. It may only occur at night or after eating a fatty meal.
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Gas, bloating
  • Indigestion
  • Burping, belching