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Do Birth Control Pills Affect Blood Pressure?

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Updated September 17, 2013

Do Birth Control Pills Affect Blood Pressure

Birth Control Pills and High Blood Pressure

Photo © 2013 Dawn Stacey
Question: Do Birth Control Pills Affect Blood Pressure?
According to the Guttmacher Institute, the Pill is the leading birth control method used by women ages 15-44 (17.1% of these women use birth control pills). Given that four of every five sexually experienced women have used oral contraceptives, do you need to worry if birth control pills affect blood pressure?
Answer:

Birth control pills can indeed increase the risk for high blood pressure. Users who are older than 35, obese, and/or smoke are generally more at risk. Also, the risk for high blood pressure increases with age and the duration of birth control pill use. When women stop taking the Pill, there is usually a reduction in blood pressure. However, some research reveals that birth control pills may cause a small (yet significant) increase in diastolic pressure, and this can persist in older women who have been off the Pill for years.

Your healthcare provider should conduct a thorough personal and family medical history (paying attention to cardiovascular risk factors) and an accurate blood pressure measurement before you begin to take birth control pills.

Once you begin taking oral contraceptives, make sure to have your blood pressure checked regularly. If you develop high blood pressure while using the Pill, you may wish to discuss the risks of staying on hormonal birth control with your healthcare provider; switching to a different method of contraception may be a better option for you.

Related Birth Control Pill Information:

Sources:

Beevers, G., Lip, G., & O'Brien, E. (2010). ABC of hypertension (5th ed). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Guttmacher Institute.(August 2013). "Contraceptive Use in the United States." Accessed September 1, 2013.

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