National Catholic Register


Contraceptives May Double Risk of Stroke

BY Tim Drake

| Posted 10/30/09 at 2:23 PM


According to, a new study conducted by Chicago’s Loyola University Health System indicates that taking oral contraceptives increases the risk of stroke by nearly double for women.

The study was published by MedLink Neurology. It demonstrated that there are about 4.4 ischemic strokes — caused by the loss of blood supply to the brain — for every 100,000 women of childbearing age. The use of birth control nearly doubles the risk to roughly 8.5 strokes per 100,000 women.

Using numbers from the Guttmacher Institute, LifeSiteNews extrapolates that of the 11 million women using oral contraceptives in the U.S. in 2002, the contraceptives could have contributed to more than 400 strokes. With worldwide contraceptive use at about 100 million, contraception could contribute to more than 3,000 strokes worldwide annually.

“If a woman has other stroke risk factors, she should be discouraged from using oral contraceptives,” said Dr. Jose Biller, one of the study’s authors. Those risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, or a history of migraine headaches.

Ever since oral contraceptives were first introduced, strokes associated with their use have been reported.

Despite the Catholic Church’s teaching against contraception, and Loyola University’s Catholic heritage, the authors of the study concluded that the “benefits [of contraception] still outweigh the risks for most users.”