Yaz is one of the most popular birth control pills in the U.S., according to Natasha Singer of the New York Times. It had $616 million in sales in 2009 and holds about 18 percent of the oral contraceptive market, reports IMS Health research firm. Part of its popularity stems from the fact that it doesn't just prevent pregnancy. Yaz has other benefits, including the treatment of moderate acne.
Yaz is the brand name of an oral contraceptive pill manufactured by Bayer that is used primarily for birth control in women. It has a unique formulation, using two hormones called drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol. It keeps women from getting pregnant by preventing the monthly release of an egg by the ovaries. It also makes cervical mucus thicker so sperm have a hard time getting through even if an egg is somehow released.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Yaz for treating premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) in 2006. PMDD is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome that affects a woman's mood and functioning. One year later, the FDA also approved Yaz as an acne treatment for women with moderate acne who also want an oral birth control method.
Yaz birth control pills are associated with serious side effects in some women. The drospirenone causes the bodies of some users to produce excess potassium. This can cause potentially fatal heart problems and other negative physical effects. Take this risk into account before choosing it because of its acne treating properties; there are other acne medications without this risk. Yaz also carries the same risks as other oral contraceptives, such as breast tenderness and an increased risk of blood clots and high blood pressure, according to Dr. Lawrence Gibson of the Mayo Clinic. These risks are elevated in women who smoke and those over age 35.
Yaz is not the only birth control pill approved for the treatment of acne. A pill called Ortho Tri-Cyclen, which contains ethinyl estradiol and norgestimate, and a pill called Estrostep, which contains ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone, also have FDA approval for that purpose, notes Dr. Gibson. They may be better alternatives for women who have potassium problems caused by the drospirenone in Yaz.
The FDA forced Bayer to run ads correcting possible misconceptions caused by its early Yaz commercials. The FDA accused Bayer of emphasizing Yaz's ability to fight acne and PMDD while glossing over potential bad side effects, according to Natasha Singer of the New York Times.