Using the Pill

Migraines, Birth Control, and Stroke Risk

April 27, 2018

You might wonder if it is safe for you to be on birth control pills if you have migraines, particularly in regard to your risk of stroke.

Oral Contraceptives and Stroke Risk in Women With Migraines

Girls of child-bearing years may require oral contraceptives either in the form of combination birth control pills (includes estrogen and progestin) or simply progestin (often known as the”mini-pill”).

Deciding which birth control is right for you depends upon a range of factors, and that is why the decision takes a thorough discussion with your own personal gynecologist or primary care doctor.

That all being said, one variable that will likely play a part in your birth control decision is if you suffer from migraines, especially in the event that you receive auras with your migraine headaches.

Migraines With Aura Boost Your Risk of Stroke

The biggest concern with mixture birth control pills and migraines is ischemic stroke, which occurs when a blood clot impedes blood circulation in an artery that supplies the brain.

According to numerous scientific studies, migraine with aura increases a female’s risk of having a stroke. In addition, there’s scientific proof (albeit not as strong ) that women with migraine with aura who also take combination birth control have an even higher risk of stroke.

Due to these findings, societies such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) say that women with migraine with aura shouldn’t take combination birth control pills.

It is just not worth the risk of stroke (which may be devastating), particularly because there are different forms of contraception available.

In conclusion, girls who experience migraines without aura can take combination birth control. This assumes there are no other stroke risk factors (or some other medical contraindication to taking estrogen) like:

  • Being age 35 or older (aging itself is a stroke risk factor)
  • smoking
  • having health conditions like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, higher blood pressure, or higher cholesterol.
  • Certain diseases associated with stroke, such as sickle cell disease or connective tissue disorders
  • history of stroke (in member before the age of 45)

A Word from Verywell

If you have migraines without aura, are younger than 35, and are healthful, taking combination birth control is a reasonable option. But if you suffer from migraines with aura, you shouldn’t take combination birth control pills.

In addition, if you develop auras while on combination birth control pills or you notice worsening headaches, you need to report this to your physician. This way you can safely switch your form of contraception.