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      Hormonal contraception and risk of venous thromboembolism: national follow-up study


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          Objective To assess the risk of venous thrombosis in current users of different types of hormonal contraception, focusing on regimen, oestrogen dose, type of progestogen, and route of administration.

          Design National cohort study.

          Setting Denmark, 1995-2005.

          Participants Danish women aged 15-49 with no history of cardiovascular or malignant disease.

          Main outcome measures Adjusted rate ratios for all first time deep venous thrombosis, portal thrombosis, thrombosis of caval vein, thrombosis of renal vein, unspecified deep vein thrombosis, and pulmonary embolism during the study period.

          Results 10.4 million woman years were recorded, 3.3 million woman years in receipt of oral contraceptives. In total, 4213 venous thrombotic events were observed, 2045 in current users of oral contraceptives. The overall absolute risk of venous thrombosis per 10 000 woman years in non-users of oral contraceptives was 3.01 and in current users was 6.29. Compared with non-users of combined oral contraceptives the rate ratio of venous thrombembolism in current users decreased with duration of use (<1 year 4.17, 95% confidence interval 3.73 to 4.66, 1-4 years 2.98, 2.73 to 3.26, and >4 years 2.76, 2.53 to 3.02; P<0.001) and with decreasing dose of oestrogen. Compared with oral contraceptives containing levonorgestrel and with the same dose of oestrogen and length of use, the rate ratio for oral contraceptives with norethisterone was 0.98 (0.71 to 1.37), with norgestimate 1.19 (0.96 to 1.47), with desogestrel 1.82 (1.49 to 2.22), with gestodene 1.86 (1.59 to 2.18), with drospirenone 1.64 (1.27 to 2.10), and with cyproterone 1.88 (1.47 to 2.42). Compared with non-users of oral contraceptives, the rate ratio for venous thromboembolism in users of progestogen only oral contraceptives with levonorgestrel or norethisterone was 0.59 (0.33 to 1.03) or with 75 μg desogestrel was 1.12 (0.36 to 3.49), and for hormone releasing intrauterine devices was 0.90 (0.64 to 1.26).

          Conclusion The risk of venous thrombosis in current users of combined oral contraceptives decreases with duration of use and decreasing oestrogen dose. For the same dose of oestrogen and the same length of use, oral contraceptives with desogestrel, gestodene, or drospirenone were associated with a significantly higher risk of venous thrombosis than oral contraceptives with levonorgestrel. Progestogen only pills and hormone releasing intrauterine devices were not associated with any increased risk of venous thrombosis.

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          Most cited references 15

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          Risk of idiopathic cardiovascular death and nonfatal venous thromboembolism in women using oral contraceptives with differing progestagen components.

          Concern about the risks of cardiovascular illness in women using combined oral contraceptives (OC) containing the progestagens desogestrel and gestodene prompted two studies of data from the UK General Practice Research Database. We compared the risks of certain cardiovascular illnesses in otherwise healthy women exposed to one of three OCs containing < 35 micrograms oestrogen plus levonorgestrel, desogestrel, or gestodene. In the first study, based on some 470 general practices, there were 15 cases of unexpected idiopathic cardiovascular death among 303,470 women who were current users of one of the study OCs. The estimated incidence rates were 8/184,536 (4.3 per 100,000) woman-years at risk for users of combined OCs containing levonorgestrel, 2/135,567 (1.5 per 100,000) for desogestrel users, and 5/105,201 (4.8 per 100,000) for gestodene users. The relative risk (RR) estimates were 0.4 (95% CI 0.1-2.1) and 1.4 (CI 0.5-4.5) for desogestrel and gestodene, respectively, compared with levonorgestrel. In the second study, derived from some 370 general practices, there were 80 cases of nonfatal venous thromboembolism (VTE) in a cohort of 238,130 otherwise healthy women. The incidence rates of VTE per 100,000 woman-years at risk were 16.1 for levonorgestrel users, 29.3 for desogestrel, and 28.1 for gestodene. The adjusted RR estimates from the cohort analysis were 1.9 (1.1-3.2) and 1.8 (1.0-3.2) for desogestrel and gestodene users, respectively, compared with users of levonorgestrel. In a nested case-control analysis the adjusted matched RR estimates were 2.2 (1.1-4.4) and 2.1 (1.0-4.4) for desogestrel and gestodene users, respectively, compared with users of levonorgestrel. The excess risk for nonfatal VTE associated with the new generation of combined OCs containing low-dose oestrogen and the progestagens desogestrel or gestodene compared with levonorgestrel is estimated to be 16 per 100,000 woman-years.
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            Venous thromboembolic disease and combined oral contraceptives: results of international multicentre case-control study. World Health Organization Collaborative Study of Cardiovascular Disease and Steroid Hormone Contraception.

            The composition and use of oral contraceptives (OCs) have changed since their cardiovascular side-effects were established 20 years ago. This report describes the risk of idiopathic venous thromboembolic (VTE) events (deep vein thrombosis [DVT] and/or pulmonary embolism [PE]) in association with current use of combined OCs among 1143 cases aged 20-44 and 2998 age-matched controls, as evaluated in a hospital-based, case-control study in 21 centres in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. OC use was associated with an increased risk of VTE in Europe (odds ratio 4.15 [95% CI 3.09-5.57]) and in non-European ("developing") countries (3.25 [2.59-4.08]). Risk estimates were generally higher for DVT than for PE but no consistent trend by certainty of diagnosis (definite, probable, possible) was found. Increased risk was apparent within 4 months of starting OCs, was unaffected by duration of current episode of OC use, and had disappeared within 3 months of stopping OCs. Relative risk estimates of VTE associated with OC use were unaffected by age of user, by history of hypertension (excluding hypertension in pregnancy), or in any consistent way by smoking. However, in both groups of countries increased body mass index (BMI) was an independent risk factor for VTE, and OC-associated odds ratios were higher among those with a BMI above 25 kg/m2 than among those with smaller BMIs. OC-associated risk estimates were high among women in Europe with a history of hypertension in pregnancy. Odds ratios associated with the use of OCs containing a third-generation progestagen were higher than those observed with progestagens of the first (norethindrone type) and second (norgestrel group) generation. Odds ratios associated with first and second generation progestagens tended to be lower, though not significantly, when used in combination with low (< 50 micrograms oestrogen) rather than higher oestrogen doses. This study confirms an association between OC use and VTE in Europe and the developing countries, although overall risk estimates associated with use were lower than demonstrated in most previous studies of non-fatal idiopathic VTE.
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              Enhancement by factor V Leiden mutation of risk of deep-vein thrombosis associated with oral contraceptives containing a third-generation progestagen.

              Recent concern about the safety of combined oral contraceptives (OCs) with third-generation progestagens prompted an examination of data from a population-based case-control study (Leiden Thrombophilia Study). We compared the risk of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) during use of the newest OCs, containing a third-generation progestagen, with the risk of "older" products. We also investigated the influence of family history of thrombosis, previous pregnancy, age, and the thrombogenic factor V Leiden mutation. We selected 126 women with DVT and 159 controls aged 15-49 (mean age 34.9) and premenopausal and found, as compared with non-users, the highest age-adjusted relative risks to be that for an OC containing desogestrel and 30 micrograms ethinyloestradiol (relative risk [RR] 8.7, 95% CI 3.9-19.3). We found lower relative risks for all other types of OC, ranging from 2.2 to 3.8. In a direct comparison, users of the desogestrel-containing oral contraceptive had a 2.5-fold higher risk (95% CI 1.2-5.2) than users of all other OC types combined. The relative risk for the desogestrel-containing OC was similar among women with and without a family history--ie, preferential prescription because of family history cannot explain our findings. Nor could the excess risk be explained by previous pregnancy, and it was highest in the youngest age categories, where we would expect most new users. The age-adjusted RR for the desogestrel-containing contraceptive was 9.2 (3.9-21.4) among non-carriers of the factor V Leiden mutation and 6.0 (1.9-19.0) among carriers of the mutation. This latter risk is superimposed on the 8-fold increased risk of venous thrombosis for carriers of the factor V Leiden mutation. The risk of carriers using the desogestrel-containing OC as compared with noncarrier non-users will therefore be increased almost 50-fold. Use of low-dose OCs with a third-generation progestagen carries a higher risk of DVT than the previous generation of OCs. The absolute risk of DVT associated with these OCs seems to be especially high among carriers of the factor V Leiden mutation and among women with a family history of thrombosis. However, the higher risk associated with OC with a third-generation progestagen compared with previous generations was also present in women without factor V Leiden and with no family history.

                Author and article information

                Role: professor
                Role: consultant
                Role: statistician
                Role: data manager
                BMJ : British Medical Journal
                BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.
                13 August 2009
                : 339
                [1 ]Gynaecological Clinic, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
                [2 ]Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Hillerød Hospital, Copenhagen University
                [3 ]Department of Biostatistics, University of Copenhagen
                [4 ]Research Centre for Prevention and Health, Glostrup Hospital, University of Copenhagen
                Author notes
                Correspondence to: Ø Lidegaard Lidegaard@ 123456rh.regionh.dk

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/ and http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode.

                Epidemiologic studies
                Drugs: obstetrics and gynaecology
                Reproductive medicine
                Venous thromboembolism
                Pulmonary embolism
                Sexual health
                Drugs: endocrine system



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