Dr Soraya Farah, obstetrician and gynaecologist at Serenity Clinic Foetal Maternal Care, said there were factors to weigh up before women begin to use an oral contraceptive pill. Anna Nielsen for The National
Dr Soraya Farah, obstetrician and gynaecologist at Serenity Clinic Foetal Maternal Care, said there were factors to weigh up before women begin to use an oral contraceptive pill. Anna Nielsen for The Show more

Women must be made aware of contraceptive pill risks, say UAE doctors



Contraceptive pills:

Women must be made aware of contraceptive pill risks, say UAE doctors

UAE residents warn against oral contraceptive side effects

Contraceptives rarely covered by health insurance in UAE

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ABU DHABI // Women need to be aware of the health risks posed by oral contraceptive pills and take warning signs seriously, say doctors.

The risks include blood clots, deep-vein thrombosis, heart attacks and strokes in women who are smokers, especially if they are over 35 years of age.

Milder risks include spotting between periods, weight gain or fluid retention, nausea or mood changes. Blurred vision, severe stomach pains, headache, swelling or pain in the legs or chest pain are also some possible side effects.

Dr Soraya Farah, obstetrician and gynaecologist at Serenity Clinic Foetal Maternal Care, said there were factors to weigh up before using an oral contraceptive pill [OCP].

“Some women have serious medical conditions, like history of breast cancer, endometrial cancer, unexplained vaginal bleeding, liver tumours or disease, increased clotting or stroke risk, and should not use OCPs.

“Others might be at higher risk for side effects due to age or smoking status. They should speak to their health care provider before taking pills. Women of any age should avoid combination hormonal birth control if they have a history of uncontrolled high blood pressure, chest pain, diabetes and severe headaches.”

She agreed that the pills should not be provided without a prescription.

“Before being handed a prescription a woman should have a detailed history including family history, general and gynaecological examination,” she said.

“Major factor risks and contraindications should be detected. Regular check up including blood test is recommended to reduce mortality and morbidity.”

She added that these kinds of side effects were rare.

Dr Nazura Siddiqi, specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist at LLH Hospital, Mussaffah, said: “It is important to understand that though there are serious health risks, they occur in an extremely minute number of cases. However, every woman should be screened by a doctor before being given a prescription.”

Dr Fady Georges Hachem, consultant – obstetrics and gynaecology at Burjeel Hospital, also added that OCPs could increase chances of certain cancers, although it reduces risks of others.

“The breast cancer risk increases slightly and uterine cancer and ovarian caner risk goes down with oral contraceptives,” he said.

“If you are on the pill you are more fertile as they protect the ovaries. They also protect the ovaries from infection.

He also pointed to the risk of deep-vein thrombosis.

“The risk is related to the dose of oestrogen in the pill and the type of progesterone in the pill. The third generation pill with the third generation progesterone has a higher risk of DVT than older pills.

“The risk is six to 10 people out of 100,000 people,” he said.

“Abu Dhabi has done a good job of making it mandatory to have a prescription. The doctor has the role to choose the suitable contraceptive method after assessing risk factors and looking at history and a full examination,” he said.

According to the National Health Service in the UK, about one in 1,000 pregnant women develop DVT at some point during their pregnancy.

The combined contraceptive pill and hormone replacement therapy both contain the oestrogen. Oestrogen causes the blood to clot slightly more easily, so one’s risk of getting DVT is slightly increased.

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About this package:

UAE doctors are warning women against the potential side effects of oral contraceptive pills. They say women need to be made aware of serious health risks such as blood clots and heart attacks to the more mild ones like weight gain or fluid retention.

With no plans for contraceptive pills and intrauterine devices to be included under health insurance coverage, women who have suffered from ailments after using oral contraceptives have urged caution.

arizvi2@thenational.ae

Day 2, Abu Dhabi Test: At a glance

Moment of the day Dinesh Chandimal has inherited a challenging job, after being made Sri Lanka’s Test captain. He responded in perfect fashion, with an easy-natured century against Pakistan. He brought up three figures with a majestic cover drive, which he just stood and admired.

Stat of the day – 33 It took 33 balls for Dilruwan Perera to get off the mark. His time on zero was eventful enough. The Sri Lankan No 7 was given out LBW twice, but managed to have both decisions overturned on review. The TV replays showed both times that he had inside edged the ball onto his pad.

The verdict In the two previous times these two sides have met in Abu Dhabi, the Tests have been drawn. The docile nature of proceedings so far makes that the likely outcome again this time, but both sides will be harbouring thoughts that they can force their way into a winning position.