This post was written by my dear friend and sister, Kathleen Heldman.
I am a runner and an avid rock climber. I practice yoga every day and surf when I can. I live to be moving, working, organizing, and getting stuff done. I don’t smoke, drink, or do drugs. I am a vegetarian who eats mostly organic, locally grown food. I do my yearly pap smears and physicals. I am watchful of my body and take care of myself, and, according to societal standards, I am a very healthy person.
I nearly died this past weekend from a blood clot the doctors found lodged in my lungs (a pulmonary embolism). I have very few risk factors for this ailment, and my doctor concluded that this blood clot was caused by my use of the Nuva Ring birth control device.
I am in my late 30s, when I decide to go on hormonal birth control a little over a year ago, I discussed the risk factors with my doctor. She assured me that this product releases a low dose of estrogen and thus has fewer side effects than other forms of birth control. My husband and I read even the fine print of the drug pamphlet, and we concluded that I would be safe because I do not smoke.
We should have taken an extra step and googled “Nuva Ring side effects” or “Nuva Ring lawsuits” to discover the many articles on the this dangerous product. Pharmaceutical company Merck just settled a $100 million class action lawsuit by Nuva Ring users and grieving family members of those who died from blood clots in the prime of their lives. A lot of these women were in their 20s with no risk factors for blood clots, other than the Nuva Ring. One was 20-year-old elite athlete Megan Henry who never made it to the Sochi Olympics because of ten blood clots in her arteries and lungs. She asked her doctor, “could it be the Nuva Ring?” He replied, “absolutely not.”
The Nuva Ring is riskier than first generation daily birth control pills that most women have grown accustomed to, and far more deadly. I am shocked that it is still on the market, but when Merck is making about $700 Million in one year on a product for which they settled a class action for $100 million, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
Thousands of people have had their lives derailed or taken prematurely by blood clots from the Nuva Ring. My clot was very painful and required three days in the hospital, but I am one of the lucky ones. I am alive and can breathe freely again, but I will be on dangerous blood thinners for at least the next six months and will have to avoid many of my favorite activities, like rock climbing.
Please warn the women in your life that the Nuva Ring is dangerous, and join efforts to increase awareness about its potentially lethal effects.