Consumer Watch: Women’s Health

womens healthThere are some women’s medical prescriptions and products that are problematic. The use of these products have been associated with harmful effects. Recently, there have been a large amount of court cases related to women’s prescriptions and products. It should be noted that not all drug products are absolutely safe. Drugs are approved by FDA when they have been shown that their benefits outweigh their known risks. Some of these problematic medical prescriptions and products are Transvaginal Mesh, Nuvaring, Mirena IUD, Yasmin Ocella, and Antidepressants.

Transvaginal Mesh

Transvaginal mesh is like a woven fabric in form of surgical mesh inserted through the vagina. Transvaginal mesh is basically used for the treatment of two diseased conditions associated with many women. These two diseased conditions are Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI). POP occurs when there is bulging of organs (prolapse) into the vagina, and when prolapse passes the vaginal opening. Major organs that may be involved in POP include the uterus, the bladder, the rectum, the bowel, and vaginal apex after a hysterectomy. SUI is associated with a leakage of urine during physical activity such as exercises, laughing, sneezing, or coughing.

As beneficial and helpful transvaginal mesh is to women suffering from POP and SUI, it has been associated with complications. FDA reported that common complications associated with the use of transvaginal mesh are pain, urinary problems, and erosion through vaginal epithelium, bladder, blood vessel, and bowel perforation during insertion, and recurrence of prolapse1. These vaginal mesh erosion and scarring have resulted to reduced quality of life in the patients due to pain and discomfort.

NuvaRing

NuvaRing is a medication used in the prevention of pregnancy. It is a combination of two hormones namely progestin and estrogen. Its mode of action is targeted at stopping ovulation (the release of egg) during menstrual cycle, and also through the prevention of sperm from reaching an egg by the thickening of the vaginal fluid. NuvaRing has been associated with the following risks: strokes and heart attacks, high blood pressure and heart disease, changes in blood clotting system, cancer of the reproductive organs and breast, liver tumors, gall bladder disease, and inflammation of the pancreas. Recent studies reveal that cancer of the cervix is of high incidence in women using Pill than women not using Pill. The possible common side effects of NuvaRing are weight gain, headache, nausea, and vaginal irritation and infections.

Yasmin

Yasmin is a combination of ethinyl estradiol and drospirenone used for the prevention of pregnancy. Its mode of action is similar to that of NuvaRing. It works by preventing ovulation and fertilization in women. Other branded names for Yasmin are Ocella, Yaz, Ghanvi etc. Yasmin can also be used in the treatment of symptoms associated with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), such as weight gain, depression, anxiety, breast tenderness, headache, muscle pain, trouble in concentrating, irritability etc. Yasmin has been implicated in birth defects and it is contraindicated in liver disease, severe migraine headaches, blood clotting disorder, heart disease, high blood pressure, and problems associated with diabetes. Common side effects of Yasmin include sudden numbness, a breast lump, chest pain, nausea, severe headache, symptoms of depression, loss of appetite, swelling in hands, ankles or feet, wheezing, and sudden cough.

Mirena IUD

Mirena is an intrauterine device used as a contraceptive for the prevention of pregnancy. It contains progestin hormone (Levonorgestrel). The placement of Mirena IUD is often associated with discomfort characterized by dizziness, pain, cramping or bleeding. Expulsion is another possible side effect of Mirena, this is a case where Mirena comes out itself. Pain, increased menstrual flow, and bleeding have been associated with both complete and partial expulsion of Mirena IUD. It is believed that more than 10% users of Mirena IUD may experience changes in bleeding, abdominal pain, cyst on the ovary, and missed menstrual periods. Between 5% and 10% may experience acne, depressed mood, headache/migraine, and prolonged menstrual bleeding. 5% users of Mirena IUD may experience decreased sex drive, weight increase, skin irritations, usual hair growth or loss, pelvic pain, vaginal discharge, breast pain etc.

Antidepressants and Birth Defects

Antidepressants are drugs used in the treatment of mood disorder such as depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), pain disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Antidepressants have been implicated in birth defects. Some birth defects associated with antidepressants include neural tube defects, heart defect, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), cleft lip and palate.

In conclusion, women’s medication prescriptions and products especially those used in contraception definitely have their benefits and harmful effects. It is advisable that in the use of them the benefits should outweigh the harmful effects.

View Sources

  1. Nuvaring.com “Possible Risks and Side Effects” (2013). Web.17.Oct.2013 http://www.nuvaring.com/consumer/risks-and-side-effects/index.asp
  2. Mirena-us.com “Frequently Asked Questions” (2013). Web. 17.Oct.2013 http://www.mirena-us.com/frequently-asked-questions/#jump_c20
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