Yaz has been linked to pancreatitis, even in women who have no previous medical history of the disease. Acute pancreatitis is a sudden and severe inflammation of the pancreas, and it causes sudden and extreme pain. If the inflammation is severe, pancreatic tissue may begin hemorrhaging and dying. Many people who have acute pancreatitis need surgery to remove dead or infected pancreatic tissue.
Yaz is a hormonal birth control pill sold by Bayer. It contains a combination of two hormones: drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol. Much of the controversy surrounding Yaz stems from the three-fold increased risk of blood clots associated with drospirenone. In addition to this severe side effect, Yaz birth control pills are known to cause acute pancreatitis.
Yaz birth control has come under intense public and FDA scrutiny since its inception. The FDA criticized the advertisements as “misleading” because they “failed to communicate any risk information.” The FDA was also concerned that the advertisements also overstated the approved indications. The FDA only approved Yaz to reduce the risk of getting pregnant, reduce mild acne, and treat Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). However, in the advertisements, the FDA was concerned that they implied that the birth control could improve a woman’s quality of life in addition to reducing the risk of pregnancy.
There have been several studies linking hormonal birth control pills to pancreatitis, and it is a known side effect of Yaz birth control pills. Yaz pancreatitis is probably related to the estrogen content in birth control pills, which alters lipid metabolism. It may also be caused by increased levels triglycerides in the blood of women taking Yaz. The diuretic effect of Yaz may also increase the risk of pancreatitis.
What is Pancreatitis?
The pancreas is a digestive gland that secretes enzymes and some hormones (insulin, glucagon) into the intestine after a person eats a meal. These enzymes help the body break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Hormones help the body metabolize nutrients in food.
Pancreatitis is a disease that occurs when the pancreas becomes suddenly, severely inflamed. In severe cases, this can cause the pancreas to begin bleeding (called hemorrhagic pancreatitis) or severe damage to the pancreatic tissue (called necrotizing pancreatitis). Organ damage is permanent. One risk is that the damaged pancreatic tissue will become infected. It may be difficult to treat this infection. Many people require surgery to have the necrotic tissue removed.
Around 20% of cases of acute pancreatitis are severe, and some can be fatal. If the infection is not controlled, pancreatitis can lead to multiple organ system failure and death.
Signs & Symptoms of Yaz Pancreatitis
Yaz pancreatitis usually causes severe abdominal pain, which prompts treatment and diagnosis. However, diagnosis of Yaz pancreatitis may be delayed, because the women who suffer from this severe Yaz side effect are typically younger, with no history or risk factors for pancreatitis.
Symptoms of Yaz pancreatitis may include:
- Gradual or sudden upper abdominal pain
- The pain may radiate to the back, shoulders, or arm
- The pain may get worse after eating
- Nausea, vomiting
- Tenderness when the abdomen is touched
- Oily, smelly stools
- Ill appearance