Saturday, September 12, 2009

Reinforcements

Of all the brands of pill out there, Yasmin is the one that really gets women talking. Some time down the line, we might see the release of Yasmin as a positive thing - it's certainly got people talking about the effects of the pill more openly.

I've heard a number of Yasmin stories in the last couple of weeks, so I thought it might be useful to look at its potential impact on your body in some more detail. The particularly nasty emotional side effects of this brand can build very sneakily and slowly, which I have found means some women go for years before they realise why they feel so wrong. Considering the massive amounts of anecdotal evidence filtering through to those in the medical profession - I've heard complaints have got so common that doctors are actually joking about it these days - I think we can assume research is being done on this pill and the negative results are not getting published.

That Yasmin immediately makes you lose weight (water weight, remember) and very quickly gets your skin glowing (wipes out testosterone, if you recall) means it's extremely effective in persuading women to take it for as long as they can stand. Those sort of instant side effects are reinforcing, and make you feel like this pill can only be doing good, healthy things to your body. That then makes you less likely to question later on whether it is Yasmin that's stopping you leaving the house or making you cry all the time.

So, what is this pill up to? Yasmin has anti-androgen and anti-mineralocorticoid properties. Mineralocorticoids are hormones, the main one is called aldosterone, which is produced by the adrenal gland and acts on the kidneys to control sodium and potassium levels in your blood. Androgens are also hormones, the main one of which is testosterone. The higher level of potassium in the body produced by Yasmin, and since the FDA warning openly advertised as a side effect, elevates blood pressure which can in turn cause heart failure. Many of the class act lawsuits against Bayer Schering are to do with Yasmin's connection to heart attacks and strokes. The progestogen drospirenone, unique to Yasmin, has been connected with an increase in the risk of blood clots.

As I've mentioned earlier, Yasmin suppresses the adrenal gland which controls hormone production as one of the ways it ensures you don't get pregnant. This suppression kicks off a lowering of serum cortisol levels, a hormone produced by the adrenal gland which guides the body's responses to stress. When your adrenal gland is put under this kind of pressure over a long period of time, it can lead to Adrenal Fatigue. Adrenal Fatigue symptoms will ring bells for women with Yasmin stories - fatigue, weakness, nervousness, anxiety, depression, brain fog, muscle pain. This illness can also show up in allergies and irritable bowel syndrome.

If you take a look at the side effects listed in a Yasmin packet, there's mention of Flu Syndrome, which as you can guess, has similar symptoms of weakness, fatigue and low immunity. In recent studies on trans-gender people taking anti-androgen medication containing similar components to drospirenone, it was found that the effect produced cognitive overload and cognitive dysfunction - that is, confusion, short term memory problems and inability to concentrate.

All of the lawsuits against Yasmin's producers are based on physical side effects, which I will go into at a later point. Clearly, emotional side effects would be harder to prove in a court, but it will be interesting to see if they become the focus down the line.

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