Women and the Risk of Blood Clots

Nearly 900,000 people are affected by blood clots each year, leading to approximately 100,000 blood clot-related deaths annually. Dangerous blood clots such as deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) often form in the veins of a person’s arm or leg. If a DVT is left untreated, the clot can break loose and travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolism [PE]), which can be life-threatening.

Men have a higher overall risk of thrombosis than women, but women have risks due to pregnancy, birth control, and postmenopausal hormone therapy that men do not. These risks are generally attributed to estrogen, a key ingredient in birth control pills, patches, and rings, and in postmenopausal hormone therapy.

Choices related to family planning, pregnancy, and the treatment of menopausal symptoms can affect a woman’s risk for developing a blood clot. This is further increased if a woman has previously experienced a blood clot, has a family history of blood clots, or has been diagnosed with a genetic or acquired clotting disorder. Nearly half of people who experience a DVT do not experience symptoms, so it is important for women to learn the risks associated with blood clots.

This “Patient Education” tear sheet was produced in collaboration with the National Blood Clot Alliance (stoptheclot.org).

Patient Education: Women and the Risk of Blood Clots