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The birth control pill Safyral contains hormones that may increase a woman’s risk of developing Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH). Complications of this rare but serious disorder include migraine headaches, vision problems, and blindness.

Overview

Safyral is a birth control pill that contains the same active ingredients as Yasmin, plus an additional folic acid (B9-vitamin) supplement that helps prevent birth defects if pregnancy accidentally occurs. It also contains a combination of progestin (drospirenone) and estrogen (estrogen).

Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension

Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH) is a medical term for a disease that causes high pressure inside the skull due to excess amounts of cerebrospinal fluid. This fluid normally cushions the brain and protects it from impacts. Too much cerebrospinal fluid can actually damage the brain and optic nerves, causing headaches and blindness.

Birth Control Linked to IIH

The term “idiopathic” means “unknown cause,” but many medications have been identified as possible risk-factors — including birth control pills containing estrogen, progestin-only injections (Depo-Provera), and more.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1995 linked 56 cases of IIH with the contraceptive implant Norplant, which prevents pregnancy by releasing progestin.

Safyral and Blood Clots

Studies have found that the hormone drospirenone, an ingredient in Safyral, triples a woman’s risk of blood clots compared to other hormones like levonorgestrel.

If a blood clot travels to the brain, it might physically obstruct the flow of cerebrospinal fluid and elevate pressure inside the skull. This is called secondary intracranial hypertension.

According to warnings from the Intracranial Hypertension Research Foundation:

“Cerebral blood clots (also known as cerebral venous thrombosis) are a cause of secondary intracranial hypertension. A clot can be the result of an injury, head trauma, a blood-clotting disorder, or even the use of certain medications, including oral contraceptives containing estrogen.”

Symptoms of IIH

  • Headache
  • Migraine
  • Nausea
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Double-vision
  • Blurry vision
  • Enlargement of the blind spot
  • Vision loss
  • Blindness