The birth control method called Yaz has gotten a bad reputation, because the pill has been linked to an increased risk of blot clots and other harmful side effects. Pharmaceutical manufacturer Bayer is introducing a new form of birth control called Natazia, which it hopes will overcome the health risks associated with Yaz. The only trouble is that Natazia contains a form of estrogen that has never been used as an oral contraceptive before, so it is unclear what the long term effects of Natazia will be. According to NPR:
“The safest is still, surprisingly, one of the oldest pills,” says Dr. Frits Rosendaal, an expert in clotting disorders at Leiden University in Holland.
Rosendaal led another study that also found that women taking Yaz have a higher risk of clotting than those on older birth control pills — about twice as high. That paper also appeared in the British Medical Journal.
“There are convincing indications this pill is less safe than other pills,” Rosendaal says, adding that there’s really no difference in Yaz’s effect on other menstrual symptoms.
Bayer denies these concerns about Yaz, and argues that the introduction of Natazia is about giving women options.
Dr. Edio Zampaglione, senior director of medical affairs for women’s health care at Bayer, and the official in charge of the company’s latest new pill, says its launch has nothing to do with these economic factors. He says Bayer developed Natazia because women need more contraceptive options.
“Each woman is different, and each woman will feel differently on these different types of hormones and will react differently to them,” Zampaglione says.
To some, that might be an argument for caution. When a new birth control pill comes out, no one really knows how millions of women will react to it. Pre-market studies of Natazia involved only about 3,000 women. The unknowns are even greater when a contraceptive contains hormones and combinations never used before.
Ultimately it is up to women and their health care providers to decide which birth control method is best for them. Bayer is likely to employ an aggressive ad campaign for Natazia, just as it did for Yaz. So get the facts before you make a decision to switch to Natazia. Here is Planned Parenthood’s guide to finding the right birth control method for you. And here is Bayer’s website for Natazia.
What’s your opinion? Has Yaz been a good choice for you? Do you feel that safety concerns over Natazia are overblown? I’d love to hear from you.