Estrogen contraceptives and estrogen-containing hormone therapies significantly increase a woman’s risk of developing a blood clot, stroke, heart attack or deep vein thrombosis. When a woman has a genetic blood clotting disorder, known as thrombophilia, the risk can become unmanageable.
Thrombophilia is a a generic term given to a collection of genetic disorders that result in an increased tendency to develop blood clots. A woman with thrombophilia has overproducing clotting factors and often also has fewer enzymes that dissolve clots, so she develops tiny blood clots that flow freely throughout the bloodstream in greater numbers than the average woman. These tiny clots may cause no outward symptoms. Alone, these clots are not dangerous, but they can combine at any time to form large, dangerous clots. Her risk of of developing a dangerous clot is much greater than that of the average woman.
Without knowing or understanding her risks, the woman begins an estrogen regimen as oral contraceptives or estrogen replacement therapy. The additional estrogen increases her clotting factor further, to an unmanageable level. Estrogen-containing therapies increase every woman’s risk of developing a dangerously large blood clot, a five-fold increase according to Net Wellness, a co-operative publication from the University of Cincinnati, Ohio State University and Case Western Reserve University. For the woman with a thrombophilia disorder, the risk is 32 times greater.
Women are informed of the dangers of smoking while taking estrogen-containing oral contraceptives because the combination of smoking and estrogen increases the risk of dangerous blood clots, but are rarely informed of the genetic disorders that increase the risk much more than smoking. Because these disorders are largely without symptoms, women do not know about them. Blood clotting disorders are often the cause of recurrent early miscarriages, or lead to strokes, heart attacks and deep vein thrombosis in women who are generally considered too young to develop these conditions.