Louise's story: more information about the contraceptive pill

Ten months ago Louise Palfreyman underwent brain surgery after a blood clot caused her to have a stroke.

Doctors told her smoking and being on the contraceptive pill was the likely cause. Louise also suffers from migraines, which is another risk factor she didn't know was connected.

Louise is now calling for women to be given more explicit information about the risks.

The medicines watchdog says cases like Louise's are extremely rare.

According to the NHS, the oestrogen in the pill may cause blood to clot more readily. If a blood clot develops, it could cause deep vein thrombosis (clot in your leg), pulmonary embolus (clot in your lung), stroke or heart attack.

The risk of getting a blood clot is very small, but doctors will check if you have certain risk factors that make you more vulnerable before prescribing the pill.

The pill can be taken with caution if you have one of the risk factors below, but you should not take it if you have two or more risk factors. These include:

  • being 35 years old or over

  • being a smoker or having quit smoking in the past year

  • being very overweight (in women with a BMI of 35 or over, the risks of using the pill usually outweigh the benefits)

  • having migraines (you should not take the pill if you have severe or regular migraine attacks, especially if you get aura or a warning sign before an attack)

  • having high blood pressure

  • having had a blood clot or stroke in the past

  • having a close relative who had a blood clot when they were younger than 45

  • being immobile for a long time – for example, in a wheelchair or with a leg in plaster

You can find out more information here.

Watch a video report on Louisa's story below: