A teenager claims she almost died after taking the contraceptive pill caused multiple blood clots in her brain.
Lexie Nash, 16, was sent home from school after complaining of a severe headache and neck pain back in December 2017 - just four weeks after being prescribed a new brand of contraceptive pill.
The following day, her parents rushed their daughter to hospital after she began violently vomiting and suffered from double vision.
Medics initially believed it was meningitis but a CT scan discovered the cause was in fact Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis - a condition where blood clots form in the sinuses and drain blood from the brain.
Her parents, Caroline and Paul, were told to prepare themselves for the worst as professionals struggled to stabilise their daughter’s blood pressure and heart rate.
But after four weeks in hospital, she recovered and was allowed home - though she still suffers from fatigue, slurred speech, dizziness and headaches.
Nash had been taking the new contraceptive pill for nine months in order to control her heavy periods.
“I was advised to take the pill to control my periods, but I never in a million years thought I could end up in hospital,” the GCSE student said. “I am an active person and never had any health complications before and was not made aware of any risks of the pill when it was prescribed until I fell ill with a critical condition.”
“When it all started, it felt like my head was going to explode so my mum picked me up from school and as the pain continued, she took me to out of hours,” she continued.
“I had never had a migraine before, so I assumed, they were right when they sent us home, but the pain was getting worse. I was projectile vomiting and could see two of everything, it was terrifying.”
Due to the blood clots on her brain and down her neck, alongside multiple haemorrhages behind her eye, she was unable to communicate for four days.
She was kept in Bristol Children’s Hospital for four weeks as medics reduced the clots using a blood thinner infusion.
The teen’s intracranial pressure, a build-up of tension around the brain, was five times higher than the average person’s meaning that she also needed two lumbar punctures.
Tests undertaken in January 2019 showed the intracranial pressure in her skull was still dangerously high, meaning she must now take medication to prevent migraines.
Nash required an extra four months off school to recover.
“Now, a year later I am still not 100%, I suffer with fatigue and dizziness, short-term memory loss and I have problems with my speech, terrible head pains and body twitches,” Nash explained.
Her mother, Caroline, was left “heartbroken” by the experience.
“I was worried sick, I didn’t think she would ever be the same again, she was unable to talk and could only communicate with thumbs up or down,” she said. “I was furious when the doctor told me Lexie’s clots were due to the pill, I had no idea it could be this dangerous.”
A spokesperson for Marvelon manufacturer MSD Limited said: “Marvelon is a combined oral contraceptive pill. It is licensed to be used as a contraceptive only. Its safety and efficacy was established in clinical trials in women aged 18 years and over.”
“As with all medications, there can be side-effects for some, and these are outlined in the accompanying patient information leaflet, which can be found in the Marvelon pill package.”
Can I take the combined pill?
The NHS acknowledges that taking the combined pill may increase the risk of blood clots as a consequence of oestrogen (which increases the number of clotting agents in the body).
According to the health service, people with the following risk factors should take the pill with caution. If you have two or more of the below risk factors, it is not advised that you take the combined pill.
You are aged 35 or over
You are a smoker or have quit smoking in the last year
You are medically overweight
You regularly have migraines
You have a high blood pressure
You have had a blood clot or stroke in the past
You have a close relative who had a blood clot when they were younger than 45
You have been immobile for a long period of time