Smoking and birth control: what you should know

Most people generally know that smoking is bad for your health in that it suppresses the immune system, and increases the risk for heart disease and lung cancer. But many don’t know that combining cigarette smoking with birth control can further increase the risk for major health problems, due to the effects of nicotine on extra estrogen supplied by most forms of birth control.

Here’s what you should know about the relationship between smoking and birth control.

Birth control and cigarettes: a lethal combination

Birth control delivers extra estrogen to your system to prevent ovulation and conception. Nicotine is a toxin that increases your blood pressure and heart rate. When the two substances are combined, birth control adds more stress to your blood vessels on behalf of the extra estrogen, and increases the risk for stroke, blood clots, and heart attack.

If you have a family history of heart disease, hypertension, and high cholesterol, your odds for experiencing these conditions increases even more. If you’re a smoker who uses birth control in pill, ring, patch, or shot form, consult with your gynecologist about safer birth control options.

What to do if you smoke and use birth control

If you’re a smoker, make plans to quit as soon as possible so you can lower your risk for health complications and improve your overall wellness. If you’re having problems quitting cold turkey or with overcoming your habit using patches, gum, or medication, talk to your physician about smoking cessation programs that can help you quit.

If you don’t want to quit smoking, but currently use birth control, make an appointment with your OB-GYN as soon as possible. Be completely honest with your OB-GYN about your smoking habit so both of you can discuss alternate forms of birth control, or the possibility of taking birth control pills that lack estrogen.

Women’s Care Florida offers several options for birth control, including permanent birth control, subdermal implants, and estrogen-free intrauterine contraceptives. Schedule an appointment with WCF today to explore birth control options, and to receive comprehensive board-certified gynecologic care.