Yasmin is a type of oral combined contraceptive pill. It has two key active ingredients that help prevent pregnancy - ethinylestradiol and drospirenone (synthetic forms of oestrogen and progesterone respectively). It's a very effective method of contraception, preventing pregnancy by up to 99% when taken correctly:

  • Stops the ovaries releasing an egg
  • Creating a mucus barrier around the cervix to prevent sperm passing through
  • Changing the lining of the uterus making it less likely for a fertilised egg, if released, to implant

While it's a very common method of contraception, as with many medications you can experience side effects with use.

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Common side effects

The following table outlines the side effects of taking Yasmin, according to the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) and determines how likely those taking Yasmin are likely to experience them.

  • Common – Between 100 and 1,000 women in every 10,000 will be affected
  • Uncommon – Between 10 and 100 women in every 10,000 will be affected
  • Rate – Between 1 and 10 women in every 10,000 will be affected
Common side effects Uncommon side effects Rare side effects
  • Mood swings or depressive mood
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Nausea
  • Breast pain or breast tenderness
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Thick (whitish) vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal yeast infection (e.g. thrush)
  • Breast enlargement
  • Increased or decreased libido
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Acne, severe itching or skin rash
  • Alopecia (hair loss)
  • Vaginal infection
  • Fluid retention
  • Hearing or vision changes
  • Allergic reactions (hypersensitivity)
  • Erythema nodosum (skin condition with painful reddish skin nodules)
  • Breast discharge
  • Erythema multiforme (skin condition with rash with target-shaped reddening or sores)

Yasmin can also interact with other medications, which can make it ineffective in preventing pregnancy. These can also cause unexpected bleeding. It is important to advise your doctor of any other medication you are taking so they can ensure they are safe to take together and no additional contraceptives are necessary.

Additional risks when taking Yasmin

When taking the combined pill some studies have found that you can slightly increase your risk of developing other potentially dangerous conditions. While it's a small increase, it's important to be aware of these and look out for any symptoms and signs.

Yasmin and blood clots

Research has found that when you're taking a combined pill like Yasmin, you're at a slightly higher chance of developing blood clots. These clots can be in the leg (deep vein thrombosis), can develop in the lungs (pulmonary embolism) and rarely they can develop in an another organ such as the eye (retinal vein thrombosis). It is rare, but it is thought that you are most at an additional risk of developing a clot mostly during the first 12 months of using Yasmin. Once you stop taking the combined pill, the risk is removed.

To give you an idea of the level of risk, this chart outlines the risk of developing a clot for different categories:

Category Risk of blood clot
Not on the pill and not pregnant 2 to 10 out of 10,000 women will get a clot each year
On a combined pill containing levonorgestrel, norethisterone or norgestimate 5-7 out of 10,000 women will develop a clot each year
Women taking Yasmin 9-12 out of 10,000 women will develop a clot each year

The risk of developing a clot also depends on your own medical history and whether you have any other risk factors (see below). If you do have other risk factors, your doctor may decide that Yasmin is not suitable for you.

Yasmin and Cancer

Women who are taking Yasmin or other combination contraceptive pills have been shown to be at a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer and cervical cancer, but it is not definitive whether this is as a result of the pill or other factors such as more frequent check-ups leading to detection. This risk reduces once women stop taking the combined pill and within ten years, it has diminished completely.

In rare cases, it's been suggested that women taking Yasmin and the combined pill are also at an increased risk of developing benign liver tumours and liver cancer.

Allergic reactions to Yasmin

While not common, like many medications, it is possible to have an allergic reaction to ingredients within Yasmin. If you show any symptoms of developing an allergic reaction, you should seek medical help immediately, especially any swelling of the face, tongue or throat.

How to prevent the risk of side effects

There are certain risk factors that place you at a higher risk of developing adverse side effects. You should ensure that you disclose all relevant information during your consultation so that your doctor can advise whether Yasmin is the right choice for you.

If you have any of the below risk factors, Yasmin is unlikely to be prescribed to you:

  • You are over 35
  • You are or have recently been a smoker
  • You or your family have a history of blood clots
  • You are very overweight/obese
  • You have hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • You have diabetes mellitus
  • You use a wheelchair
  • You have anaemia or other blood disorders
  • You have a history of depression
  • You have a history of migraines
  • You have an inflammatory bowel disease
  • You have had or you have a family history of hypertriglyceridaemia or hyperprolactinemia
  • You have undiagnosed lumps in your breast
  • You have kidney problems
  • You have a history of brownish patches on skin

Dealing with the side effects of Yasmin

Most of the common side effects such as bleeding between periods, nausea and headaches should disappear within a few months of taking Yasmin. If they persist or are becoming more severe, you should contact your doctor.

You should also notify your doctor of any changes to your lifestyle and health that would place you in the above risk factors, as you may need to stop taking Yasmin. You should get regular checks of your blood pressure, regular smear tests and carry out frequent examinations of your breasts for changes and lumps. If you've any concerns, you should speak to a medical professional straight away.