The ONE organ responsible for high blood pressure.
Birth control and high blood pressure: Which methods are safe for you?
Birth control pills and other hormonal birth control devices contain hormones that may increase your blood pressure by narrowing smaller blood vessels. Nearly all birth control pills, patches and vaginal rings come with warnings that high blood pressure may be a side effect.
Why does blood pressure matter when choosing birth control?Birth control containing estrogen can increase blood pressure. When women who have high blood pressure use these birth control methods, they have an increased risk of stroke and heart attack compared with women who do not have high blood pressure. However, their actual chances of having a stroke or a heart attack are still quite low. When considering birth control options, it’s important to also weigh the possible risks of an unintended pregnancy. A woman who has a history of high blood pressure before she becomes pregnant is more likely to experience
- preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication that can affect liver and kidney function and can even lead to eclampsia, or seizures
- diabetes during pregnancy
- blood clots
- heart attack
Why are recommendations around blood pressure and birth control being updated?When US blood pressure guidelines changed in 2017, many more people were diagnosed with high blood pressure. That happened because the new guidelines tightened standards, as follows:
- normal blood pressure is less than 120 (systolic)/80 (diastolic) mm Hg
- elevated blood pressure is between 120 and 129 mm Hg (systolic) and less than 80 mm Hg (diastolic)
- high blood pressure is 130 mm Hg (systolic) and 80 mm Hg (diastolic) or higher.
Which birth control methods do not contain estrogen?So, what can women who are unable to use birth control containing estrogen use to prevent pregnancy? The good news is that there are a variety of other birth control methods available, both hormonal and nonhormonal.
- The most reliable forms of birth control without estrogen are the copper intrauterine device (IUD), the hormonal IUD, the implant, and sterilization for women or men.
- Nonhormonal methods include the copper IUD, condoms for men or women, cervical cap, and diaphragm.
- Three progestin-only hormonal methods are safe to use: the mini pill, the birth control implant, or the hormonal IUD. However, the birth control shot (Depo-Provera) is not recommended for women who have poorly controlled high blood pressure.
Frequently Asked Questions
The mini pill: The mini pill is a progestin-only pill, so it's safe for anyone with high blood pressure. But unlike combined birth control pills, the mini pill has to be taken at the same time every day for maximum effectiveness.
Your blood pressure may change. It's also possible that your blood pressure may have increased only slightly, so it didn't raise any red flags during physical exams. But all of this could explain any dips in blood pressure after stopping hormonal birth control.
If your blood pressure is uncontrolled (at or over 160/100), then it's best to stick to nonhormonal options no matter your age. Although, the hormonal IUD, implant, and progestin only birth control pills could be used with caution.