Venous Thromboembolism Women and venous thromboembolism (VTE)
Hormonal birth control, hormone therapy, and pregnancy all raise the likelihood of VTE for women. After menopause, women have a lower chance of VTE than men do. Learn about your risk if you take hormonal birth control or are pregnant or planning for pregnancy.
Hormonal birth control and hormone therapy
Women who take some types of birth control pills or get hormone therapy have a higher likelihood of blood clots. Some medicines appear to raise the chance more than other medicines do, and the chance tends to be highest in the first few months after starting to take them. If you have other risk factors in addition to taking hormone-based medicines, keep in mind that the chance of blood clots may be even higher.
If you are trying to prevent pregnancy and know you have a high risk of clotting, talk to your healthcare provider about contraception that does not include the hormone estrogen, such as:
- Intrauterine devices, or IUDs (including those containing the hormone progestin)
- Progestin-only pills or implants
- Barrier methods such as condoms or a diaphragm
Pregnancy and giving birth
Women have a higher chance of VTE during the first 6 weeks after giving birth. The likelihood is also higher than usual during pregnancy. This is because during pregnancy, more blood pumps through your body to meet the needs of your developing baby. More blood flowing through the body means added pressure on your blood vessels, which can cause them to narrow. This, along with hormonal changes, can make you more than 5 times more likely to have a blood clot during pregnancy or right after delivery than someone who is not pregnant.
If you are required to be on bed rest while you are pregnant, the lack of movement can lower blood flow through your veins. Surgery for a cesarean delivery may also raise your chance of blood clots.
Talk to your healthcare provider if you are pregnant and taking blood thinners due to a previous VTE, as some blood-thinning medicines are not safe to take during pregnancy.