March 6, 2020
If you're a woman, try to remember the first time you went to a gynecologist. The gynecologist probably asked you many questions: when was the last time you had sex? Do you have any medications to take daily? … Do you smoke? Are you informed on the risks of combined tobacco and birth control pills?
You probably know that tobacco and pills don't go well together but figuring out the difference between myth and reality is not always easy in the era of Internet and Fake News. To help you understand the topic and provide you with some answers, Kwit gives you further information in this article on the risks of using birth control pills while smoking.
1- Birth control pills and tobacco: Is it safe?
The combination of tobacco and contraceptive pills does not cause sterility problems, as many may believe, but it does cause cardiovascular problems.
Smoking weakens blood vessels and can lead to clogged arteries. In addition, estrogen, a substance contained in most pills and other hormonal contraceptives, can thicken the blood.
The combination of these two effects can lead to cardiovascular complications.
Smoking also affects fertility and causes women to reach menopause two years earlier than the average. For example, a 30-year-old female smoker has a fertility level comparable to a 40-year-old woman.
2- Unknown or ignored connections?
Studies show that eight out of ten women taking the pill continue to smoke, even after their doctor has warned them of the risks and side effects of smoking when using oral contraceptives.
Studies show that in some cases women are not even aware that smoking is a problem when using hormonal contraceptives. Up to half of the women who are prescribed birth control pills do not tell their doctors about their smoking habits. The majority of women in the survey didn't even know that there were safe contraceptive alternatives for smokers.
What are the alternatives?
There are other safe options available to avoid such risks. You can take progestin pills, put in an implant (which also contains progestin) or an IUD (which does not contain hormones) or use a condom.
However, we strongly advise against smoking while wearing the patch or a vaginal ring, both of which contain oestrogen.
The best advice we can give you is to avoid any risk by quitting smoking.
It's important to discuss your medical and smoking history with your doctor when deciding which contraceptive method is right for you. Don't hesitate to ask your doctor for advice if you want to quit smoking.
Remember: quitting smoking not only improves your health and that of your loved ones, it also makes it safer to use contraception. Although newer pills are low in oestrogen and safer for smokers compared to the previous generations of contraceptive pill, they are not entirely risk-free.
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