Birth control pills are the most common form of contraception. Although they are cheaper and easier to use than other forms of birth control, they can increase your risk of forming blood clots. Here are two things you can do to decrease your susceptibility to developing this troublesome side effect.

Avoid Other Risky Behavior

Although the odds of developing blood clots is small—about 1 percent of users get them over a 10-year period of time—certain lifestyle choices can compound your risk. Smoking, for instance, can significantly increase the likelihood you'll get them because the nicotine in cigarettes causes blood vessels to constrict, impeding blood flow and making it easier for platelets to stick together and form clots. Since the estrogen in birth control pills enhances your blood's clotting ability, the combination of smoking and taking the contraception can be deadly.

Uncontrolled diabetes can also heighten your chances of getting blood clots when taking birth control. This metabolic disease causes plaque buildup in the arteries which, similar to smoking, narrows the passageways and make it more difficult for blood to flow through freely. As a result, platelets are pushed closer together, increasing the chances they'll stick to each other and form clots.

Meet with your healthcare provider and have an extensive discussion about the various factors in your life that can affect your risk of developing blood clots and work out a treatment plan to mitigate their affects.

Take Anticoagulant Medication

Another option for minimizing your blood clot risk is to take anticoagulant medication (i.e. blood thinners). These medications work by inhibiting your blood's ability to clot, which prevents existing clots from getting bigger and stops new ones from forming.

Anticoagulants come in different strengths, from low-dose aspirin to heavy hitters like Warfarin. The right type for you depends on a number of factors, such as whether you already have clots, your susceptibility for getting them, and any relevant health concerns (e.g. pregnancy). For instance, if you're relatively healthy, the doctor may prescribe low-dose aspirin to counter estrogen's effect on the body.

Be aware that anticoagulant medications have their own set of side effects. Since they inhibit blood clotting, it'll be harder for your body to stop blood flow if you suffer cuts or wounds. Some blood thinners can cause ulcers, nausea, intestinal gas, and anemia. It's essential you review the pros and cons of any anticoagulant medication suggested by your healthcare provider to ensure it's right for you.

For more information about birth control pills or help selecting a contraceptive best for your lifestyle and needs, contact your family doctor, or a clinic like Western Branch Center for Women.