hormonal birth control is 99% effective if used perfectly. But if you miss a pill, it only becomes 91% effective. Other factors could also interact with its effectiveness, including some vitamins and supplements that may have adverse interactions.
“Oral contraceptives (OCs) are absorbed into the lining of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. After absorption, the estrogen component of OCs is metabolized in the liver by a specific enzyme system called cytochrome P450,” said Dr. Mary Jacobson, Chief Medical Officer at Alpha Medicalexplains to SheKnows.
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Birth control pills and some supplements can have a conflicting interaction with the enzyme, which means that when taken together, birth control could become less effective, leading to side effects, including unplanned pregnancies. Below is a list of vitamins and supplements that could interfere with your birth control.
St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum)
St. John’s wort is a dietary supplement that people can buy over-the-counter in the United States and according to Jacobson, the herb is used to treat depressive symptoms. “St. John’s wort accelerates the metabolism of OCs, which decreases the amount of hormones in OCs that are absorbed. This can lead to higher rates of breakthrough bleeding and unwanted pregnancy.
While activated charcoal is used as a detoxifier in the treatment of ER patients for suspected poisoning, Jacobson notes that people, especially millennials, are taking it in smaller doses “for unsubstantiated claims of health benefits. , including the removal of toxins from the body and skin”. However, if you take your OCs around the same time you eat charcoal, “charcoal can bind to OC hormones in your gut and render them ineffective.”
Soy products, such as tofu and tempeh, contain isoflavones which are a type of phytoestrogen. Phytoestrogens are compounds found in plants and foods that act similarly to estrogen in the body. “Phytoestrogens have been studied for their potential benefits in menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and osteoporosis, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, brain function, breast cancer, prostate cancer, bowel cancer and other cancers,” Jacobson explains. “Phytoestrogens can theoretically impact estrogen in birth control. However, more research is needed to determine the effects of phytoestrogens on birth control.
According to Jacobson, eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice could impact the amount of many drugs, including COs, your body absorbs. “Grapefruit has been shown to slow the breakdown of estrogen from COs in your body,” she says. “So the estrogen from your birth control can stay in your system longer. More research is needed to determine the exact effect of grapefruit on hormone regulation. Sometimes eating grapefruit shouldn’t be a problem, but eating a lot of grapefruit can impact the metabolism of medications you’re taking.
Are there alternatives to these vitamins and supplements?
If you’re taking birth control, Jacobson advises you discuss your goals for taking supplements, including vitamins and minerals, with your provider. “If you’re treating depressive symptoms with St. John’s wort and having success, consider switching from an OC to another form of hormonal birth control that doesn’t interact with St. John’s wort,” she says. “The hormones from an IUD, patch, ring, or implant are absorbed directly into the bloodstream and are unaffected by St. John’s Wort. Alternatively, if St. John’s Wort is ineffective in treating depressive symptoms, talk to your provider about alternatives like prescription antidepressants and talk therapy.
Before taking vitamins and supplements, what are some guidelines someone should consider or discuss with their doctor?
When discussing birth control, Jacobson recommends that your provider be aware of all medications, vitamins, minerals, herbs, and supplements you are taking so they can discuss potential drug interactions as well as supporting scientific evidence. or refuting the supplements you take. “Remember, more is not better. The extra nutrients provided by dietary supplements can help meet recommended nutrient goals, but can also lead to excess intake and affect your kidney and liver function. achieve your goals by changing your diet.
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