Yes, the Pill is safe in women who do not have any risk factors and so is almost always safe in young women. But in women who have risk factors, for example, women who smoke, are fat, have high cholesterol, are diabetic, or have high blood pressure, the Pill may not be safe because it adds to the risk of heart attacks. A woman with more than one risk factor should probably not take the Pill and may need another form of contraception.
Birth control pills containing both an estrogen and a progestogen (the "combined Pill") are the most commonly used. Their advantages over a single-ingredient pill are that:
• they are reliable and safe
• they cause less bleeding, less pre-menstrual tension, and less breast disease
• there is a reduced risk of cancer.
The Pill can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes in women:
• who have any cardiovascular risk factor, particularly smokers
• who have a family history (first-degree relative) of arterial disease.
Therefore, a woman who smokes is at greater risk from developing coronary heart disease than a nonsmoker. A woman with several risk factors is at much greater risk, and the risks of the Pill may be too high. The greater the number of risk factors, the greater the risk of cardiovascular problems.
The Pill should not be prescribed to women over 35 years old if they have one or more cardiovascular risk factors.
Before starting the Pill, make sure that you have been checked by your doctor or the family planning clinic for all cardiovascular risk factors.
Women who smoke or have high blood pressure, should either not take the Pill or should stop smoking.
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