Yaz and Yasmin
Yaz and Yasmin are two popular oral contraceptives manufactured by Bayer Healthcare that use drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol to prevent pregnancy. They are also both used to treat premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and moderate acne in women. Yaz was approved by the FDA in 2006 and Yasmin was approved in 2001. Yasmin contains 30 mcg of ethinyl estradiol, while Yaz contains 20 mcg. Yaz is taken by a woman on a 24 day cycle while Yasmin has the traditional 21 day cycle.
Despite their popularity, both Yaz and Yasmin have been linked to serious, life-threatening side effects, including cardiac arrhythmia, kidney failure, seizure, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, blood clot, heart attack, stroke and death.
While ethinyl estradiol, the estrogenic compound, has been used in birth control pills since the 1970s, drospirenone, the progestin in both Yaz and Yasmin is new and is considered a “fourth generation” progestin. Although Bayer has claimed that drospirenone is safe when used in combination with estrogen to prevent pregnancy, there is little data to support this. Indeed, studies have only shown drospirenone to be more dangerous than the progestin used in comparable birth control medication.
Drospirenone is a diuretic and may increase potassium in the body and may lead to a condition known as hyperkalemia. Hyperkalemia can cause heart rhythm disturbances and if left untreated, can be fatal. When hyperkalemia disrupts normal heart rhythms, blood flow through the heart can be slowed to the point that blood clots can form. Blood clots in the heart can cause heart attack, stroke or a pulmonary embolism.
Studies have also shown that long term use of diuretics such as drospirenone may cause gall bladder disease such as cholecystitis (gall bladder inflammation) and cholelithiasis (gall stones), and may even necessitate gall bladder removal. Bayer’s product packaging does not contain a warning about the adverse effects of its products on the gall bladder. As a result, many women have developed gall bladder problems while on Yaz or Yasmin.