Q. Do birth control pills cause nephrotic syndrome?

Answered by
Dr. Geetha Priyadarsini Kamminana
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Jul 02, 2016 and last reviewed on: Oct 09, 2018

Hi doctor,

My daughter has been taking birth control pills for five months, since she gave birth. About two months ago, she started having some swelling in her feet and legs. She waited to see if it would go away, but it did not. Her doctor did some tests and found protein in the urine, so she sent her to a nephrologist. The nephrologist did more tests and found that she has nephrotic syndrome and is going for a kidney biopsy to see what medicine she should take to reverse the damage. I am convinced that it came from birth control pills, because it says in the side effects fluid retention in legs and feet. Has this caused any permanent damage? Is this reversible? The nephrologist said it could not come from the birth control and I disagree. I told my daughter to stop taking this pill as soon as she found out from her interest that there is protein in the urine. She has been off of it for two weeks now. My mom is a pharmacist and so I know how dangerous medicines can be and both my parents were sensitive to medicines. My daughter has a kidney biopsy scheduled for next week. I would like to get it earlier, but the recommended intervention radiologist cannot do it before then. My question is can she get the biopsy done with a cold that she has right now? Is it dangerous to wait until next week for the biopsy?



Welcome to

  • As your physician said, birth control pills do not cause nephrotic syndrome or protein in urine.
  • Nephrotic syndrome is the combination of nephrotic range proteinuria (more than 3 g of protein in urine) with a low serum albumin level and edema.
  • Other tests are serum albumin, serum lipid profile, serologic studies for infection and immune abnormalities and urine sediment examination.
  • The main contraindications for renal biopsy include bleeding disorders, hypertension, shrunken kidney and pyelonephritis.
  • She can get her biopsy done now with flu unless she has high fever with chills, rigor or cough as occurrence of them during the procedure could be dangerous.
  • Heather is a mini pill with hormone Norethindrone, a form of progestin that is not associated with nephrotic syndrome to the extent of my knowledge.
  • Yes, but as you said it causes water retention and leads to swelling of foot and puffiness of the face. Stopping that drug is good though.
  • Also, do not worry as nephrotic syndrome is a treatable one. The foremost thing is to confirm the disease, understand the cause and extent of the disease by renal biopsy.
  • Already treatment would have begun. Please continue that. Renal biopsy can be done on the planned date.

For further information consult an internal medicine physician online -->

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