Migraine and stroke risk with birth control?

Ask the Clinician Health Pro
  • Full Question:


    Some birth control devices have warnings about increased risk of stroke for women who get Migraines, but I can’t find any actual statistics. Can you provide me with some statistics as well as an explanation? How high are the risks and which birth control methods are safest for migraine sufferers? Does it matter how severe or frequent the migraines are? Olivia.




    Dear Olivia;


    There is concern that the use of oral contraceptives in Migraineurs may increase risk of stroke. Review of the risk of stroke in young women, female Migraineurs, and from OC use helps to clarify this issue.

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    • The annual incidence of stroke in women with Migraines and taking oral contraceptives is about 4/100,00 for women aged 25-34 and 11/100,000 in women aged 35-44.
    • For women who have no Migraine and do not take oral contraceptives, the annual incidence is perhaps 1.3/100,000 for women aged 25-34 and 3.6/100,000 for women aged 35-44.

    Hypertension, diabetes, cigarette smoking, and cocaine use are significant risk factors. If you smoke, are hypertensive and are on oral contraceptives, it may be time for a lifestyle change and to consider other forms of birth control.


    Good luck,
    John Claude Krusz and Teri Robert



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    About Ask the Clinician:

    Dr. Krusz is a recognized expert in the fields of headache and Migraine treatment and pain treatment. Each week, he and Lead Expert Teri Robert, team up to answer your questions about headaches and Migraines. You can read more about Dr. Krusz or more about Teri Robert.


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    Last updated March 12, 2010.

Published On: March 12, 2010