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Blood Clot Risk for Women During Pregnancy

Posted on February 13, 2024

Women's blood clot risk is higher than that of men. Particularly, their deep vein thrombosis, or DVT risk, is much higher. (This is a condition in which you form a blood clot in your deep leg veins. It's dangerous because the clot could break free, get stuck in the lungs, now called a pulmonary embolism, and prove fatal.

Why are women at an elevated risk? Taking hormonal birth control pills or implanting an IUD could raise your DVT risk because the included estrogen increases your blood's likelihood to clot. Luckily, many modern birth control pills combine progestin and estradiol without estrogen. So, if you have other blood clot risk factors, you may wish to explore these options.

woman holding pregnant belly

Pregnancy and Clotting

While birth control can elevate your risk for DVT, getting pregnant actually dramatically increases your blood clot risk. However, when a pregnant woman forms a clot in her deep leg, groin or arm veins, we call it Venous Thromboembolism (VTE), not DVT.

Blood Clot Risk and VTE: What We Know so Far

VTE risk factors during pregnancy include

  • History of previous VTE
  • Relatives who've had a VTE
  • Advanced age during pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • A higher body mass index (BMI)
  • Conception via in-vitro fertilization

VTE risk remains elevated in the post partum period, with risk factors including:

  • An emergency c-section
  • Delivering a still birth
  • Pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy)
  • Having varicose veins 
  • Developing a post-partum infection

Identifying New VTE Risk Factors

Recent studies identified three new VTE risk factors: Endometriosis, recurring miscarriages, and rheumatoid arthritis.  Initially, Japanese researchers discovered that women with endometriosis were 2.7 times more likely to develop a VTE. And women who'd experienced multiple miscarriages were 6.13 times more likely to develop a VTE.

Additionally, a new Canadian study revealed that a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis raises VTE risk by 57%; DVT risk by 58%; and Pulmonary Embolism risk by 57%.

Pregnancy with VTE Risk Factors

It's important to know your blood clot risk before pregnancy, so your doctors can provide appropriate preventative care. If you need support managing your risk for VTE and other vein health concerns, click here to request an appointment with our Georgia vein specialists.

Sources:  The Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis

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