Posted on | March 3, 2014 | 29 Comments
Erika Langhart died after using ‘third generation’ birth control.
What friends of Durango [Colorado] native Erika Langhart seemed to love most about her was her humor.
“She had great stories. Ridiculous things always seemed to happen to her,” said Jessica Knutzon, 24, a fellow American University alumni. . . .
Knutzon, like so many who knew her, described Langhart as witty, jovial and incredibly driven. Tall and poised, she was headed to law school at Georgetown University.
Instead, Langhart died on Nov. 24, 2011, at just 24 years old, and her family is blaming a prescription contraceptive whose potentially deadly side effect they say was not adequately disclosed. . . .
The contraceptive she was using, a Nuvaring, a vaginal ring approved by the FDA in 2002, is known as “third generation” because it contains a different cocktail of hormones than previous formulations and is supposed to have fewer side effects.
Maybe the side effects are “fewer,” but one of them — “an elevated risk of venous thromboembolism, or deep vein blood clots” — is potentially fatal. This touches upon a common-sense criticism of birth control that is not addressed often enough: Birth control pills (and other types of hormone-based contraception) require women to add synthetic hormones to their system in sufficient quantities to alter their normal reproductive function. If a woman only uses the pill for a few months, maybe a year or two, the long-term health impact might be minimal. However, most women who use the pill are on it for many years, and it seems just common sense that altering the body’s natural hormonal balance on a long-term basis by adding artificial hormones could have serious ramifications.
“Experts” may dismiss such concerns, and I don’t have any “scientific research” to offer you, but if a known side effect of “third generation” contraceptives is deadly blood clots, I’ll count that as validating my common-sense hunch. Jill Stanek at LifeNews points to an article in Vanity Fair about Nuvaring:
What were young women being told by their doctors? As part of my reporting, I asked two college students to go to clinics in New York, inquire about using NuvaRing, and detail their families’ histories of heart issues.
Planned Parenthood, with its distribution centers all over the country, has been a target sales market for NuvaRing. At a clinic it operates in Brooklyn, one student mentioned to the attending nurse practitioner that she had Googled NuvaRing and was aware of the lawsuits alleging that it can cause blood clots. “I have a history of heart disease and diabetes in my family,” she said. “You yourself have a history of heart disease?” the nurse practitioner asked. “No, but my father has it. And my mother has type 2 diabetes.”
Both facts were indicators of potential problems, but the nurse practitioner did not seem to be alarmed. “Then no. NuvaRing is safe for healthy young women. . . . Of course, with all birth-control methods, there are side effects. . . . Would you like to try it?”
Read the whole thing, including the kicker quote by the lawyer for plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the manufacturer of Nuvaring: “I called my daughters and said, ‘Do not ever use any third- or fourth-generation birth control. It could kill you.’”