Woman's Hangover Turns Out To Be Blood Clots On The Brain Caused By The Pill
A woman whose 'hangover' turned out to be a cluster of blood clots on her brain caused by her contraceptive pill has told how she is lucky to be alive.
Lucie Edwards, 25, from Solihull, West Midlands, thought she was suffering after a few too many drinks at a family party - but when her symptoms lasted three days, she visited her GP.
The same day, Lucie's health deteriorated rapidly. She was rushed to A&E where she has a CT scan and doctors discovered six blood clots on her brain.
Doctors warned that Lucie was at high risk of a stroke, with the clots stopping blood flow to her brain, and her family prepared for the worst.
The young woman - who works as a professional horse groom - had been taking the contraceptive pill Microgynon for just three weeks before she got the headache.
Medics were able to mirror that three-week period to the growth time of the clots.
Lucie said: "The doctors said it's not rare for the pill to cause blood clots elsewhere in the body and have come across a small blood clot in someone's brain - but not a mass of six clots like mine.
"Before the headaches started, I went to my auntie's birthday party and usually I handle my drink really well but I had two doubles and felt really drunk - I thought it was weird so I stopped drinking.
"I woke up the next day feeling groggy and started getting sick, which has never happened but I didn't think anything of it.
The following morning, Lucie "suddenly felt faint" and had a "pounding" head, seeing "flashing strobe lights".
"I googled my symptoms and it suggested I had a migraine - it said they can last up to three days but the pain kept getting worse and it felt like my head could explode," she said.
"On the third day it was getting no better so I went to my GP who said I had the worst case of migraines but if they got worse I should go straight to A&E.
"At about 1am I couldn't cope with the pain anymore so my mum and dad took me to hospital.
Lucie passed out on arrival at the hospital in November 2019 and was slipping in and out of consciousness.
An initial CT scan didn't show anything, but Lucie describes how a second one - using dye in her brain - revealed "a massive mass of blood clots from the left side of my neck to the top of my brain, stopping all the blood flow, which was why the pressure in my head was so bad."
After the second scan, medics realised Lucie was in a life-threatening situation, but the cause of the clots was still unclear.
Lucie said: "Doctors didn't know the cause of the clots at first so they tested me for AIDs and cancer but they came back all clear.
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"They asked my mum if I'd been taking any medication and she mentioned I'd gone back onto the pill, then they realised that was what caused it."
Lucie had been taking the Microgynon pill for two years previously, suffering no headaches, but took herself off it when it was no longer needed.
A year later, she had an in-date packet left and began taking it again - and was only on it for three weeks before the headaches began.
Looking back at the CT scan, doctors eventually found that the build-up of clots had only been there for three weeks, which was when they made the relation to the pill.
After ten days, Lucie was discharged, but her ordeal wasn't over.
"I was prescribed blood thinning injections which I had to have in my stomach every night," said the horse groom.
The horse groom was also "bound to a wheelchair" and her "vision ended up going for two months".
Seven months on, Lucie is miraculously back to full health after a brain scan showed the clots were all gone. She's stopped the blood thinning injections, which doctors thought she would be on for life.
Lucie is now speaking out about her harrowing experience to raise awareness.
She added: "Doctors said it would be a miracle that the blood clots would go and thank god they have and it's all clear.
"I've made everyone that I know aware because I'd hate for anyone to go through this - I wouldn't even wish it on my worst enemy.
"I just want to spread awareness - obviously it's not going to happen to everyone but it's more common than what's let out."
A spokesperson for charity Thrombosis UK said: "Oral contraceptive is the most commonly prescribed form of birth control. There are many approved oral contraceptives, but an often used one is the 'combined pill' which contains oestrogen and progestogen hormones.
"However oestrogen hormones make the blood more 'sticky' and so more likely to cause blood clots.
"We would recommend that individuals should consider avoiding using the 'combined pill' but instead discuss with their doctor or nurse, a contraceptive that does not increase the risk of thrombosis."
A spokesperson for Microgynon manufacturer, Bayer, said: "At Bayer, we take the safety of our products very seriously and we continuously review the safety profiles of our products.
"Combined hormonal contraceptives (CHCs), like Microgynon, are among the most systematically studied and widely used medical products available today.
"Risk of blood clots is increased for women taking CHCs when compared with non-users. This is a well-known class effect of all CHCs as is clearly stated in the patient information leaflet of CHCs. This risk, however, of blood clots in a woman taking a CHC is smaller than the risk of clots associated with pregnancy.
"A woman's individual risk for a blood clot is determined by her personal risk factors. General risk factors for clots include genetic predisposition, obesity, pregnancy, advancing age and immobilisation (bed rest, a long-haul flight, trauma or surgery).
"The clot risk for a healthy woman is low, whether she takes an oral contraceptive or not. The more risk factors a woman has, the higher her risk might be.
"A woman should discuss their own medical history and known risk factors with her healthcare professional to weigh the risks of blood clots against the need for contraception and determine the contraceptive method best suited for their individual circumstances."
Featured Image Credit: Caters
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