5 Weird Things That Mess With Your Birth Control
In a perfect world, birth control pills would make us feel 100 percent secure in controlling our reproductive health. But more often than not, they leave us hardcore stressing about the potential for things to go awry. From forgetting to pop a pill one morning to eating something or taking another supplement that somehow makes the pill less effective in general, this system is far from perfect. So if you’re a woman who prefers to take oral contraceptives as her chosen method of birth control, here are five things that could prevent it from doing what you want it to do.
This little herb health-minded folks love to toss into their salads is a natural way to keep your cholesterol at ideal levels, but it has some of the same effects on your body as estrogen. So if the birth control pill you take uses estrogen as one of the hormones, the effectiveness of the pill can ultimately decrease when you’re taking an alfalfa supplement at the same time. In this case, always use condoms for your back up birth control.
This pesky member of the citrus family is kind of infamous for all of its strange drug interactions. Basically, there are natural chemicals in grapefruit that interfere with an enzyme in your intestines that’s responsible for breaking down and absorbing certain medicines appropriately. So it can either deprive your body of the meds, deeming them less effective, or make too much of the medicine available at once, increasing your chances of facing unsavory side effects. When it comes to birth control, grapefruit doesn’t make it less effective. Instead, it exposes your body to more estrogen at once, which can potentially increase your risk of blood clots and breast cancer (two common side effects of the pill).
3. Garlic Pills
Based on the aromatic herb, garlic pills are commonly consumed for their heart-related benefits, as well as a holistic, preventative measure for certain types of cancer. However, women who use estrogen-based oral contraceptives need to exercise caution when combining this health supplement with their daily pill. The garlic increases the speed at which the estrogen in the pill is broken down in your body, which can deem it less effective.
4. St. John’s Wort
This unfortunately-named plant is most commonly used as a natural treatment for depression symptoms, but it is notorious for causing all sorts of unwanted drug interactions — and birth control is no exception here. Taking your daily pill and St. John’s Wort at the same time could increase your chances of experiencing breakthrough bleeding and the breakdown of too much estrogen in your body, making your birth control method less effective than you’d probably like it to be.
Sorry, but here’s another health food to keep your eye on! These fibrous little seeds are powerhouses for your nutrition needs, but they don’t do your birth control any favors. Like others on this list, flaxseed can act like estrogen once it’s broken down in your body. So if you’re eating a lot of it (or taking a flaxseed oil supplement), it’s possible that it’ll make your estrogen-based birth control pill not as effective as it should be. Sigh.
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