Migraine with aura + birth control = stroke??
April 20, 2008 1:32 PM Subscribe
What's the real deal with hormonal birth control and migraines? Internet says there are stroke risks, my doctor(s) say not to worry.
Asking for general info from anyone who'd done research on this, not specific medical advice.
posted by Mr Bunnsy to health & fitness (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've had occasional migraines since around puberty. They'd go something like this: trouble focusing my eyes, severe headache and vomiting starting about an hour later and lasting for up to 12 hours. In college they got more frequent, I'd have one every few weeks.
After I went on birth control pills, the frequency decreased but the migraines changed. I would only get about one or two a year, presenting like this: glimmers in my vision for 30-45 minutes, then difficulty talking/reading (like aphasia) for another 30-45 accompanied by medium headache, then general weakness, trouble concentrating and feeling like crap for the rest of the day. No nausea, and if I took Imitrex while still in the visual aura stage, I'd go directly to the generally feeling crappy stage with no other symptoms.
I would also get mild migraines (slight headache & brain fog, especially while looking at a screen) around my period.
A doctor at the university health center mentioned that migraine with aura puts me at increased risk of stroke, but my regular gynecologist told me the risks were negligible. My gynecologist after college said the same thing, and when I mentioned the mild menstrual migraines, encouraged me to take low-dose BCPs continuously with no periods. He also suggested I visit a neurologist to check up on the migraines w/aura.
I saw a neurologist with a very good reputation as a migraine specialist. He did the usual exam, and when asked about BCP, said the studies are old and with the new pills the risks are negligible unless there are other risk factors or a malformation in the blood vessels in the brain. He sent me for an MRI just to be sure, and said my MRI looked great. (I was not on the pill at the time of MRI due to an insurance screw-up, I went off for about three months.)
Back at the gyno, I inquired about a longer-term method such as IUD due to some lifestyle changes in the future, and my concern about the risks of hormonal birth control. He again dismissed any risks, and advised against IUDs because of my (young) age. He suggested I try the Nuvaring, which I am on right now.
All is well so far, but is my brain going to be turned to mush by a stroke at some point? I love the pill and ring otherwise - no periods, no mild migraines and very infrequent severe migraines controllable by Imitrex, no acne... But obviously I don't want to risk a stroke.