Birth Control and Blood Clots: What You Need To Know

The recent pause of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine over its link to blood clots sparked heavy discussion on social media, comparing it to the risk of blood clots when taking hormonal birth control.  To get the facts straight, we spoke with women’s health expert Dr. Jennifer Stuck of Paoli OB/GYN, who shared what women need to know about the risks and benefits of hormonal birth control.

Before we dive into our discussion with Dr. Stuck, let’s review what we know so far about these recent COVID-19 vaccine events from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

COVID-19 Vaccine and Blood Clots in Women

On April 13, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended a pause on the J&J COVID-19 vaccine after six women, between the ages of 18 and 48, experienced severe blood clots. These were six women out of the 6.8 million people who had then received the vaccine.

These women developed what is known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), an extremely rare, but dangerous type of stroke caused by blood clotting in the brain.

After a nearly two-week pause and further assessment by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, on April 23, 2021, the CDC recommended that the U.S. resume use of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine, declaring that the benefits outweigh the risk.  The CDC and the FDA acknowledge the pause as a precautionary measure, and are continuing to closely monitor for any adverse events, as safety remains of utmost priority.

There has been no evidence that oral contraceptives increased risk of blood clots, in the specific case of the J&J vaccine.

So how do the J&J occurrences stack up to the risk associated with hormonal contraceptives? Overall, experts agree you can’t make a direct comparison as the causes and type of blood clots can be quite different.

Let’s learn more in our interview with Dr. Jennifer Stuck.

Hormonal Birth Control and Blood Clot Risks: Interview with Dr. Jennifer Stuck

1. Dr. Stuck, what is my risk of developing a blood clot with birth control?

Overall, the pill is seen as a very safe and effective form of birth control. It’s 99% effective at preventing unwanted pregnancy when taken as directed, each time, each day. However, as with many medications there is a risk of side-effects.

Between three and nine out of every 10,000 women who take oral birth control pills will develop a blood clot, according to data from the FDA. In other words, it’s a small 0.3% to 0.9% risk.

Now, not all birth control carries this risk. Specifically, it’s the hormone estrogen found in the pill that has been linked to blood clots that developed in women’s legs, also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). While DVT itself is not life-threatening, it can pose a greater risk if the blood clot breaks off and travels to other areas such as your lungs (known as a pulmonary embolism).

2. What are some potential warning signs of a blood clot?

If you are experiencing redness, pain, and swelling in the back of the calf, as well as shortness of breath and chest pain, these could be potential warning signs of a blood clot. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you should contact a medical professional immediately to have it assessed.

3. Are certain women more at-risk for blood clots?

Yes, certain women may be more at-risk for developing blood clots if they have a family history of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism. Additionally, obesity and smoking tobacco can increase your risk, especially if you are over the age of 35.

4. How will I know what form of birth control is right for me?

Your provider will always review your family history before prescribing any form of birth control to better understand your potential risk factors and determine the best treatment option for you. Luckily, there are many hormonal and non-hormonal options available to best suit your needs.

Bottom Line

While it’s important to understand any potential risks associated with a medication, experts agree the probability of developing a serious blood clot from either the COVID-19 vaccine or hormonal birth control are rare. There is no evidence to suggest that women should stop taking birth control if they are getting the J&J vaccine.

Because each woman’s risk for blood clotting is dependent on her personal family history and lifestyle factors, it’s always important to share these considerations with your provider when starting a new medication.


Author: Jennifer Stuck, DO, physician with Paoli OB/GYN 

To schedule a consult with Dr. Stuck or one of her teammates at Paoli OB/GYN, schedule online or call (610) 889-9550



ICYMI: Good news! You can now order 4 at-home rapid antigen Covid-19 tests mailed directly to your home, free of charge. If you haven`t already, head to to place your order. 🦠 ...

11 0

We know it can be difficult to navigate the influx of information surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine when it comes to fertility. Dr. Jenny Nichols, Reproductive Endocinrologist with our friends at Sincera Reproductive, is here to help answer your questions.

Comment below or send us a DM with your questions about the vaccine, and we`ll address in a future post. All DMs will remain anonymous of course!

17 0

1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. But through regular mammogram screenings, you can increase the chances of catching cancer early, when it is most treatable.

We`ve seen a lot of questions regarding if it`s safe to get a mammogram after the COVID-19 vaccine and want to share some facts:

Fact: Some women have reported swollen lymph nodes in their armpit after receiving the vaccine, which can impact the results of the mammogram.

Fact: Swollen lymph nodes is a very normal reaction to the vaccine.

Fact: Doctors recommend scheduling your annual mammogram four weeks after your first dose of the vaccine to allow time for any swelling to settle. Alternatively, you can schedule your mammogram prior to receiving the first dose of your vaccine.

Fact: Early detection is key. Mammograms increase your chances of catching cancer early. Don`t delay if you have a concern.

To learn more, visit the link in our bio and click "COVID-19 and Breast Health" for more info. #breasthealth #mammogram #prevention #preventativehealth

11 0

Have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, but not sure where to turn? With the amount of misinformation circulating online, it can be difficult to decode fact vs. fiction.
We’ve gathered the latest fact-checked research from the @cdcgov and @acog_org on the vaccine – especially as it relates to pregnancy and fertility – to help bring you the facts you need.
Visit link in bio and click “COVID-19 Resource Page” to read more.
As always, we love to hear from you. Have another question we haven`t covered here? Shoot us a DM or leave a comment below with your question and we`ll work to address it in a future post. #covidfacts #covidresources #linkinbio #AskAxia

14 0

Fact or Fiction? We`re sharing the latest information and resources for women on the COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more about expert guidance shared by the country`s leading women`s health entities here: ...

21 0

On this National Doctor`s Day, we thank our many physicians for their commitment to our patients, even amidst the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their dedication, loyalty, and passion for medicine inspires us all. Thank you, docs! 💙 ...

35 6

Similar Articles