Objective: To assess the thrombotic risk associated with oral contraceptive use with a focus on dose of oestrogen and type of progestogen of oral contraceptives available in the Netherlands.
Design: Population based case-control study.
Setting: Six participating anticoagulation clinics in the Netherlands (Amersfoort, Amsterdam, The Hague, Leiden, Rotterdam, and Utrecht).
Participants: Premenopausal women <50 years old who were not pregnant, not within four weeks postpartum, and not using a hormone excreting intrauterine device or depot contraceptive. Analysis included 1524 patients and 1760 controls.
Main outcome measures: First objectively diagnosed episodes of deep venous thrombosis of the leg or pulmonary embolism. Odds ratios calculated by cross-tabulation with a 95% confidence interval according to Woolf's method; adjusted odds ratios estimated by unconditional logistic regression, standard errors derived from the model.
Results: Currently available oral contraceptives increased the risk of venous thrombosis fivefold compared with non-use (odds ratio 5.0, 95% CI 4.2 to 5.8). The risk clearly differed by type of progestogen and dose of oestrogen. The use of oral contraceptives containing levonorgestrel was associated with an almost fourfold increased risk of venous thrombosis (odds ratio 3.6, 2.9 to 4.6) relative to non-users, whereas the risk of venous thrombosis compared with non-use was increased 5.6-fold for gestodene (5.6, 3.7 to 8.4), 7.3-fold for desogestrel (7.3, 5.3 to 10.0), 6.8-fold for cyproterone acetate (6.8, 4.7 to 10.0), and 6.3-fold for drospirenone (6.3, 2.9 to 13.7). The risk of venous thrombosis was positively associated with oestrogen dose. We confirmed a high risk of venous thrombosis during the first months of oral contraceptive use irrespective of the type of oral contraceptives.
Conclusions: Currently available oral contraceptives still have a major impact on thrombosis occurrence and many women do not use the safest brands with regard to risk of venous thrombosis.