Can Birth Control Pills Cause High Blood Pressure?

By Contributing Writer

  • Overview

    Can Birth Control Pills Cause High Blood Pressure?
    Birth control pills can have a number of effects on women, including on blood pressure. Scientific evidence shows that birth control pills do have a tendency to increase blood pressure in women, especially in those who are older or have been taking oral contraceptives for many years. However, while birth control pills carry risks, they will not necessarily lead to high blood pressure.
  • Effects on Blood Pressure

    According to the Mayo Clinic, birth control pills may increase blood pressure in women because the hormones act to narrow blood vessels. Women who are older or who have been taking the pill for many years are at a higher risk for high blood pressure while on the contraceptive pill. The American Heart Association also agrees that use of birth control pills is a risk factor for high blood pressure. High blood pressure in users of the pill is more likely if you have additional risk factors such as being overweight or obese, having a family history of high blood pressure or smoking. In addition, the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute has found that birth control pills can cause a small increase in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. This is usually not a problem for women without additional risk factors for high blood pressure, but if you have any of the other risk factors or have high blood pressure already, you should discuss whether birth control pills are the right contraceptive choice for you with your doctor.
  • Testing

    The Mayo Clinic recommends that women who take birth control pills visit their doctor regularly for blood pressure screenings at least every six months. Women on birth control pills can also purchase personal blood pressure monitors to use at home. According to the American Heart Association, normal blood pressure is under 120/80 mm Hg. Anything higher than 140/90 mm Hg is considered high blood pressure.

  • What to Do

    If you develop high blood pressure while on the pill, the Mayo Clinic recommends switching to another form of non-hormonal birth control such as condoms. If you do not have high blood pressure but worry about the potential side effects of the pill, talk to your doctor about lower-dose birth control pills that contain smaller doses of estrogen. These pills are less likely to cause an increase in blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic.
  • Smoking

    Smoking dramatically increases a woman's risk for high blood pressure and smokers are advised to quit before starting birth control pills. The American Heart Association cautions that smoking while taking birth control pills is "especially dangerous" for a woman's health.
  • Safety

    All medications can cause potential side effects and present advantages and disadvantages to patients. According to the Mayo Clinic, birth control pills will not cause high blood pressure in all women. Birth control pills can be a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy, but it is important to make sure you discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
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