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Birth control pills, such as Yasmin, have been linked to Benign Intracranial Hypertension (BIH). This rare but serious condition can cause high pressure inside the skull, painful migraine headaches, blindness, and other side effects.

What is Yasmin?

Yasmin is a birth control pill manufactured by Bayer HealthCare. When it was approved for sale in the United States in 2001, Yasmin was the first contraceptive to contain drospirenone, a fourth-generation progestin. Yasmin also contains estrogen (ethinyl estradiol).

Yasmin and Benign Intracranial Hypertension (BIH)

No one knows if Yasmin causes Benign Intracranial Hypertension (BIH), but they do know it is not actually “benign” (harmless). Currently, BIH is known as Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH).

Birth control pills are a possible risk-factor for BIH, according to warnings from the National Institute of Health (NIH). Studies have also found dozens of cases of BIH among women on Norplant, a contraceptive implant that contains levonorgestrel (progestin). Case reports also link BIH with exogenous estrogen and birth control shots containing only progestin. Bayer, the manufacturer of Yasmin, is facing several lawsuits from women who used Mirena and developed BIH.

Complications of BIH

People who develop BIH often suffer from complications, such as:

  • Headaches: Chronic headaches and migraines are reported by over 90% of people with BIH. They become progressively more severe and more frequent as pressure inside the skull increases over time.
  • Papilledema: Pressure on the optic disc (located at the back of the eye) can cause swelling, enlargement of the blind spot, and other vision problems.
  • Blindness: Vision problems (double-vision, blurry vision, etc.) are experienced by most people with BIH. This is a symptom of pressure on the optic nerve. Over time, the optic nerve can become damaged, causing permanent blindness.

Blood Clots and Secondary Intracranial Hypertension

Yasmin contains drospirenone, a “fourth-generation” progestin that was linked to a three-fold increased risk of blood clots compared to other progestins, according to a Safety Warning published by the FDA in 2012.

Blood clots in the brain can potentially interfere with levels of cerebrospinal fluid, causing a complication known as secondary intracranial hypertension. This a complication has the same symptoms and complications as BIH. Both conditions involve high pressure inside the skull.