Love & Sex 16th February 2023 by Grace Mollaghan
7 Things You Didn’t Know Affect Your Contraceptive Pill
Since 2022, contraception has been made free for women in Ireland between the ages of 17-25 with one of the more commonly used forms being the contraception pill. Not only is it now affordable for young women, but it is relatively effective when taken properly. However, whilst it may seem simple to use, there are in fact several unusual ways the pill’s effectiveness can be compromised. From the foods we eat to our general health and habits, it’s not always clear what is going to affect the birth control pill, so here’s a list of things you might not know are affecting your pill.
Eating Certain Foods – Particularly Grapefruit
You may love some grapefruit in your fruit bowl, but did you know it can have adverse affects on your contraceptive pill? The tangy fruit is known to interfere with an enzyme in your system called CYP3A4, primarily affecting how your body absorbs certain nutrients or medicines. This means that when eating grapefruit, or drinking grapefruit juice for that matter, there is a risk of your body failing to breakdown the oestrogen in your body correctly, affective how the pill is working for you. Whilst this claim has not had adequate scientific investigate to make concrete statements, it’s definitely something to keep in mind next time you tuck into your morning fruit bowl. Other foods that can have an adverse affect on your birth control include liquorice, soy and dairy, but again, this is dependent on the person and not a one-size-fits-all.
Taking The Pill At Irregular Times
It’s essential that when you are relying on the contraceptive pill for birth control, to take the pill at the same time every day. Now, 10 minutes isn’t going to make a difference, however when you are several hours late taking the pill, you can’t be as sure to the effectiveness of it. Set a recurring alarm on your phone to ensure you don’t forget when to take your pill whether you are on the combined pill or progesterone-only contraception.
This next one is super important, especially when every influencer seems to be advertising some sort of detox at one time or another. Beware the detox tea! Essentially, the detox tea we see highly filtered celebs pushing on their channels, is simply a laxative which makes you loose water weight, giving the illusion of weight loss with oftentimes uncomfortable and dangerous side effects. The laxatives in detox teas which cause diarrhoea can lead to nausea, fainting, dizziness and ultimately dulling the effectiveness of your contraceptive pill. It doesn’t allow your body time to absorb the medication, causing your body to flush out the pill before it has chance to work to its full abilities. Overall, detox tea is a big no-no, regardless of what the influencers are paid to say.
Diarrhoea And Vomiting
Whether brought on my the use of laxatives, illness or one hell of a night out, diarrhoea and vomiting are up there with some of the primary reasons your pill may not be working the way it should. Similar to the effects of detox tea, diarrhoea and vomiting don’t allow your body the time to absorb the pill and therefore can make it largely ineffective. Make sure to take extra precautions if you experience either of these symptoms and check with your doctor if they persist.
This may not have been your first thought when considering what might affect your pill, but consuming activated charcoal in health drinks and smoothies may not have the health benefits you once thought. Due to the porous nature of activated charcoal, it may be great for brightening your smile, but it can also absorb medications in your gut, stopping your body from being affected by the medication in your contraceptive pill. Make sure to check with your doctor if you are unsure of the effect activated charcoal may be having on your pill
Certain Antibiotics and other Medication
Antibiotics may be used to fix you up when your body turns against you, however you should also be weary that it can adversely affect your pill at a time when you really don’t want to be worrying about it. It may not be all antibiotics that affect your birth control pill, so make sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist about it when you get your prescription. Other medication that can affect your pill include certain seizure or migraine medication so always ask a medical professional about the medication your taking and how it affects your birth control.
Some Herbal Remedies
If you read any information sheet in a box of contraceptive pills, you will be sure to notice that a lot of them will cite St John’s wort, the herbal remedy oftentimes used as a form of anti-depressant, as a herbal remedy that can adversely affect your contraceptive pill. This is followed closely by supplements including garlic tablets and even flaxseed. Again, it is so important to run all of the supplements and medications you take by a doctor to understand how they can affect you, so be mindful of that extra scoop of flaxseed on your porridge in the morning.
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