Woman Experiences Ischemic Colitis After Taking Contraceptive Pill

Despite her good health, she started taking the progesterone-only pill (POP) or contraceptive pill two months ago
Estrogen increases the risk of blood clots, which is why women at higher risk of clotting are often prescribed the combined pill. (Representational image: Pixabay)
Estrogen increases the risk of blood clots, which is why women at higher risk of clotting are often prescribed the combined pill. (Representational image: Pixabay)

A woman was recently hospitalized after experiencing a life-threatening side effect triggered by her contraceptive pill. The 30-year-old seeks medical treatment after suffering three weeks of abdominal pain, nausea, and bloody diarrhea. Despite her good health, she started taking the progesterone-only pill (POP) two months ago. The POP is commonly known as the mini pill.

Doctors initially found no apparent medical issues, but a biopsy of her colon revealed a diagnosis of ischemic colitis, a condition resulting from inadequate blood flow to the large intestine. Ischemic colitis occurs when blood flow to the colon is obstructed, often due to a blood clot in the abdominal arteries supplying blood to the intestines. If left untreated, it can lead to severe complications such as bowel tissue death (gangrene) and even death.

While ischemic colitis is more commonly observed in individuals over 60 with preexisting heart disease, it can also affect younger individuals, particularly women taking hormonal contraceptives like the combined pill, which contains estrogen. Estrogen increases the risk of blood clots, which is why women at higher risk of clotting are often prescribed the combined pill. However, in this case, the woman's use of the progesterone-only pill, which typically carries a lower risk of clotting, resulted in a rare occurrence.

Ischemic colitis occurs when blood flow to the colon is obstructed, often due to a blood clot in the abdominal arteries supplying blood to the intestines. (Representational image: Wikimedia commons)
Ischemic colitis occurs when blood flow to the colon is obstructed, often due to a blood clot in the abdominal arteries supplying blood to the intestines. (Representational image: Wikimedia commons)

This incident highlights the need for further research into the effects of progesterone on coagulation, especially concerning mesenteric arteries. Mesenteric arteries supply blood to the intestines and can be affected by changes in blood clotting mechanisms.

Symptoms of ischemic colitis include abdominal pain, cramping, tenderness, bloody stool or rectal bleeding, diarrhea, and a sense of urgency to have bowel movements. Immediate medical attention is crucial if these symptoms occur, as ischemic colitis can be life-threatening if left untreated.

The woman was advised to discontinue the pill, and within two weeks, her symptoms showed improvement. However, the rarity of this case underscores the importance of monitoring and understanding the potential side effects of hormonal contraceptives.

Ischemic bowel conditions, including ischemic colitis, contribute to thousands of hospital admissions and deaths annually in the UK alone. Therefore, awareness of symptoms and timely medical intervention are vital in managing this condition and preventing severe complications.

(Input from various media sources)

(Rehash/ Susmita Bhandary/MSM)

Estrogen increases the risk of blood clots, which is why women at higher risk of clotting are often prescribed the combined pill. (Representational image: Pixabay)
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