Mum, 28, suffers stroke from taking the Pill months after coil pierced her womb

The 28-year-old knew she was suffering a stroke, as her face dropped, froze and her left hand and arm were paralysed.

Frantic, Issy's mum, who witnessed the terrifying episode, dialled 999 – as she realised her daughter wasn't joking around.

At hospital, an MRI scan showed Issy had suffered a stroke, caused by a clot cutting off blood flow to part of her brain.

She said doctors believe it was caused by the contraceptive pill, having happened three months after she switched to the most popular form of contraception.

It marks the latest in a long run of bad reactions Issy has had to various forms of contraception.

The mum-of-one was left in agony when her coil pierced her womb, and the contraceptive injection later left struggling to conceive her son, she said.

Now, Issy, who has given up on contraception and relies on condoms, is back home, learning to live with her partial paralysis.

"It was a perfectly normal day," she said. "I don't work on Fridays so I spend that time with my little boy.

"He was crawling around, babbling away.

"The next thing was that I couldn't speak. I tried to get my words out but I was stammering.

"I've forgotten what I was saying, a word beginning with 'p', and to me it sounded like I was going, 'p-p-p'.

"But my mum said my whole face just dropped and I was going, 'mmurgh'. I couldn't make any sound."

Issy's mum, Rhiannon Fox, 51, asked her daughter what she was doing, and Issy managed to tell her she didn't feel well.

"I think she thought I was being silly, which wouldn't be out of character" Issy said.

She soon realised something was seriously wrong, when Issy's shoulder slumped and she still couldn't speak properly.

"She said 'are you having a stroke?', and I said, 'I think so'," Issy, mum to Freddie, one, said.

It was a perfectly normal day. The next thing was that I couldn’t speak. I tried to get my words out but I was stammering

Rhiannon called an ambulance, which arrived at their home in Crewe, Cheshire within minutes.

At A&E tests confirmed she had suffered a stroke in the right frontal lobe of her brain.

"It was such a shock when they told me in A&E that I'd had a stroke," the 28-year-old said.

"I just didn't think they were talking about me.

"You'd never think it was going to be you, and then it happens and it is. It's just crazy.

"What they think has happened is that the blood clot moved at some point, which meant that the damage I had was quite minimal considering the type of stroke.

"That meant I managed to save some brain cells, it was really fortunate that happened."

While in hospital, Issy couldn't move her hand or arm, which were completely paralysed.

Doctors performed a series of tests to try and identify why the mum-of-one had suffered the stroke.

"All the blood and heart tests showed no other reason for the stroke," Issy said.

"There was nothing in the family, my heart rate was fine, my blood tests were fine.

"The only thing that had recently changed was the fact that I had recently gone on the Pill.

"I had started on it three months before I had the stroke."

How can the Pill trigger a stroke?

THERE are two types of stroke – ischaemic and haemorrhagic – both stop oxygenated blood reaching the brain.

An ischaemic stroke is caused by a blockage, like a clot, which stops the blood flow.

Meanwhile, a haemorrhagic stroke is bleed on the brain, which causes damage.

Issy suffered an ischaemic stroke, where the blood supply was blocked by a clot in her artery.

The risk of this type of stroke is increased in people who take the combined contraceptive pill, according to the NHS.

The oestrogen pill can cause the blood to clot more easily.

If a blood clot does develop that can increase the risk of stroke, as well as:

  • deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – a clot in the leg
  • pulmonary embolism – a clot in the lung
  • heart attack

The risk of developing a clot is small, and doctors will check your risk factors before prescribing the Pill.

To find out more, visit the NHS info page.

Following bad experiences with other forms of contraception in the past, Issy was put on a high oestrogen, low progesterone pill in November last year.

She already had doubts about all contraception, after the injection termporarily affected her fertility and the coil perforated her uterus.

"They say that if the pill is going to cause that kind of damage it happens in the first three months.," Issy said.

The only thing that had recently changed was the fact that I had recently gone on the Pill. I had started on it three months before I had the stroke

"You give it three months to settle to see how your body is going to take to it.

"Obviously my body didn't take to it. That's the only thing that they can conclude that had changed in my life – was me taking the pill. I had to come off it straight away.

"I am kind of not surprised.

"I was on the injection a few years ago and that made me infertile for a while. I had to take drugs to help me get pregnant.

"I went for a coil fitting in October and it accidentally perforated my uterus which caused a massive bleed, so I had to go to hospital. I'm completely put off the coil now.

"Condoms will do. I'm just glad I'm alive and we'll have to be sensible.

"If I had a massive bleed now because of the coil, it would kill me because I am on blood thinners.

"There are all these risks now that I have to take into consideration that I didn't have to before. It's just really sh** luck, it's terrible."

With the help of her partner, Luke Connolly, 28, and her mum, Issy is now nearly back to full health and is desperate to raise awareness of what she's been through.

The numbness in her face is fading each day, and the strength and mobility in her left hand is returning.

But she said, she's been left with a wonky smile, sounds more out of breath and struggles with her self-esteem as a result.

Issy added: "With a stroke, it is just a case of being patient. That's something I still struggle with.

"It is just a case of biding your time and not letting it drag you down because it can be really emotionally draining.

"Waking up and realising again that your face doesn't work is just really emotionally draining. It just takes time."

What are the signs you could be having a stroke?

IF someone is suffering a stroke, speed is of the essence.

A person's survival and recovery is drastically increased if they get to hospital and are treated asap.

The FAST method is the easiest way to remember the most common symptoms of stroke.

  • Face – can they smile? Does one side droop?
  • Arm – can they lift both arms? Is one weak?
  • Speech – is their speech slurred or muddled?
  • Time – if so, it's time to call 999

Other symptoms include:

  • sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body
  • sudden blurred or lost vision
  • sudden confusion, dizziness or unsteadiness
  • sudden and severe headache
  • difficulty understanding others
  • difficulty swallowing

Now Issy hopes to volunteer to help other stroke survivors and is running a 5K on March 24 as part of the Stroke Association's Resolution Run series.

Sarah Adderley, head of stroke support for central England at the Stroke Association said: "In the UK there are around 100,000 strokes every year and there are 1.2 million people living with the effects of stroke too.

"Stroke really isn’t a condition that just happens to older people either.

"In fact, 1 in 4 strokes actually happen to people of a working age like Issy.

"A stroke happens in an instant and often changes lives forever.

"As a charity we are here to support stroke survivors and their families as they look to rebuild their lives after stroke."

Issy is raising money for the Stroke Association on her JustGiving page.


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