Although many women started taking Yaz to improve their menstrual cycles, they learned that the everyday side effects of the drug created more problems than they thought.
Even though the mild to moderate side effects from Yaz can range from slight cramping to moderate nausea, this drug is also known for its severe and sometimes debilitating side effects that include migraine headaches, uncontrollable uterine bleeding and kidney disorders.
Yaz is different from other birth control pills because it contains a new generation of synthetic progesterone called drospirenone, which is closely related to spironolactone, a diuretic. Drospirenone also has anti-androgenic properties, which means it works against testosterone and other hormones. It also contains synthetic estrogen, similar to most birth control pills.
Yaz is the only pill with 24 active pills that include the hormones and four inactive pills. This gives the patient an increased dose of hormones through the month. Most birth control pills include seven inactive pills.
Yaz is also known to put women at a higher risk of hypertension (high blood pressure), liver function disturbances, liver tumors, anaphylactic reactions, changes in glucose levels that can lead to diabetes and to worsen lupus.
From Commonplace to Severe Yaz Side Effects
Yaz side effects are wide ranging, from upper respiratory infections, similar to that seen in the common cold, to high potassium levels. Researchers also warn that the drug can cause headaches, some as severe as migraines, vaginal yeast infections and unusual vaginal discharge.
Yaz has also been found to cause irregular non-menstrual bleeding, stomach cramps, hair loss and weight gain. Yaz is also known to cause acne, less sexual desire, darkening of the skin on the face, high blood sugar and problems tolerating contact lenses.
More severe side effects from Yaz include anaphylactic reactions, including itching, hives, difficulty breathing and face, lips, tongue swelling. The drug’s side effects also include breast lumps or discharge, a change in the amount of urine processed, fainting, arm and leg numbness, irregular heart beat and inflammatory bowel disease.
Patients with preexisting renal problems and hepatic disease should not take Yaz because Yaz interferes with potassium levels. Serum potassium levels should be checked in women starting Yaz because of the possibility of high potassium levels, called hyperkalemia. Because drospirenone is chemically similar to spironolactone, Yaz should not be used in patients with preexisting kidney problems.
Drug insert and U.S. Food and Drug Administration Warnings
If Yaz is taken with certain drugs and foods, the effects of the pills could be altered. Always check with a doctor before taking the following drugs: ACE inhibitors, antibiotics, heparin, morphine, diuretics, salicylic acid, St. John’s wort and vitamin C. Women who take long-term NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, should not take Yaz. Women who have ever had blood clots in the legs, lungs or eyes should not take Yaz. Yaz is known to increase the risk of severe and deadly blood clots.
Since the drug was released to the market in 2006, the drug’s maker, Bayer, has faced several warning from the FDA. Initially, the FDA fined the company for its slick advertising that proclaimed Yaz to be a cure-all for a multitude of known female menstrual conditions, including premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and hormone-induced acne.
Bayer was repeated chastised by the FDA for its advertising practices. Then, in 2009, the FDA sent the company a warning letter regarding the quality of ingredients found during a routine inspection of the manufacturing plant in Germany.
The problems at the plant included dirty equipment and failure to adequately test the final products. At least eight batches of the low-quality birth control pills were sent to the U.S.
The FDA has also been grappling with the onslaught of complaints regarding the drug’s connection to blood clots. In September, the FDA said it “remains concerned” about the drug’s clot risks. Instead of recalling the drug or taking action against the drug maker, the FDA tossed the decision to one of its advisory committees.
Even though the advisory committee voted to keep the drug on the market, some of the committee members have been criticized for their close ties to Bayer. This questionable relationship between the committee members and Bayer has brought the committee’s actions under suspicion.