Taking Melatonin and Birth Control Together?

Here’s what to know about the sleep hormone and female reproductive health

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Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in the brain that influences sleeping and waking. The body produces melatonin on its own, but it can also be manufactured and sold as a sleep aid. Melatonin can impact the sleep-wake cycle (or circadian rhythm) and conception. This article will cover the effects of melatonin, the relationship between melatonin and reproductive hormones, and how melatonin affects birth control.

curly haired woman laying in bed with melatonin on night stand

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Sleep Effects of Melatonin  

The pineal gland in the brain produces melatonin. It is secreted at night, when it's dark outside, to tell your body it's time to go to sleep.

Sleep is divided into these two major phases:

  • Non-rapid eye movement (NREM): Three different stages make up NREM sleep, during which the body transitions from wakefulness into a deep sleep.
  • Rapid eye movement (REM): REM is a period of deep sleep that occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep. This is the period during which dreams are likely to occur.

Melatonin is usually taken by people who have difficulty sleeping for various reasons. These can include:

Small doses of melatonin (1–3 milligrams) are considered generally safe for use in adults, though there are exceptions, including individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Melatonin and Female Reproductive Hormones

Hormonal changes throughout a woman's life are linked to sleep activity. Because melatonin is influenced by female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, hormonal shifts like menopause, as well as aging, can affect sleep function.

Considerations During Your Period

Menstruation is the process that allows for the production of eggs, which can then be fertilized by sperm, resulting in the conception of a fetus. On average, the menstrual cycle (a period) lasts for approximately 28 days if no irregularities exist.

The four phases that occur during the menstrual cycle are:

  • Menstrual phase: This is the first day of a new cycle.
  • Follicular phase: Day one to day 13, when a person's period occurs (between day one and ovulation), during which time the uterine lining is shed.
  • Ovulation: Ovulation occurs when the ovary releases an egg. This usually takes place around day 14.
  • Luteal phase: Day 15 to day 28, when the uterine lining thickens again.

In general, the data on the variation of melatonin levels during the menstrual cycle is not conclusive. However, women affected by premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a mood disorder that affects women before their period begins, are more likely to have difficulty sleeping. Lower levels of melatonin have been found in women with PMDD.

However, the correlation between PMDD and mood symptoms may be more connected to sleep disturbances during the luteal phase of the cycle than the melatonin levels.

Individuals suffering from PMDD may find that their bodies are more responsive to melatonin during the follicular stage of the menstrual cycle than the luteal phase.

Other Hormones in the Menstrual Cycle

In addition to estrogen and progesterone, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) are also involved in the menstrual cycle.

If You’re Planning a Pregnancy 

When planning a pregnancy, it’s important to consider how stress, sleep deprivation, and environmental factors will affect family planning.

Melatonin is important in the development of a fetus and its own circadian rhythm cycle. It can also protect the fetus from stress that occurs during pregnancy.

Lower melatonin levels have been linked to the following:

  • Infertility
  • Semen samples that reflect poor fertilization rates
  • Miscarriage
  • Low birth weight
  • Premature birth

However, some studies have demonstrated a possible connection between lower rates of conception and higher levels of melatonin. Higher levels of melatonin have also been associated with amenorrhea (consistently missing periods) and decreased sex hormone production in women.

In men, higher melatonin levels have been linked to lower sperm count in semen samples.

Melatonin Interactions with Birth Control 

Generally, melatonin and hormonal birth control are safe to take together, but you should still discuss this with your healthcare provider and review any side effects.

Certain birth control types may have a minor interaction with melatonin, and increase the melatonin's effect, so be sure to start with low doses and monitor for excess sleepiness if you are taking both.

While low levels of melatonin have been linked to infertility, there is also evidence that an excess of melatonin can impact fertility. If you are trying to become pregnant and want to avoid higher levels of melatonin as a result, then you should not take melatonin supplements with birth control, as birth control can increase the amount of melatonin secreted from the brain.

The amount of melatonin is also increased due to birth control inhibiting melatonin absorption, so it remains in the body.

It's important to note that current findings do not show that melatonin can be an effective method of birth control.

Melatonin and Birth Control Alternatives 

If you want to avoid interactions between melatonin and your birth control, consider trying a nonhormonal birth control method.

The Paragard copper IUD is the most effective nonhormonal form to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

Other, nonhormonal birth control options have higher failure rates and can lead to unintended pregnancy, so they should be reviewed and discussed with your healthcare provider.

Some of the nonhormonal birth control options to discuss with your healthcare provider include:

Although melatonin may be a more natural option for people seeking help with sleep, many different sleep aids or practices can help improve sleep.

You can consider more natural options to help you fall asleep, which include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for insomnia treatment
  • Meditation
  • Relaxation
  • Regular exercise
  • Avoiding screens and electronics before bed
  • Aromatherapy
  • Massage
  • Yoga

There are also prescription and over-the-counter medications that can be considered, such as:

Discuss your health status and expectations with your healthcare provider before making any decisions about birth control or sleep aids.

A Word From Verywell

Sleep is essential to your health, so it's important that you prioritize it. The same goes for sexual health. If you are taking melatonin as a sleep aid and hormonal birth control as your birth control method, discuss the possible interactions and side effects with your healthcare provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does melatonin affect all types of birth control?

    Melatonin does not affect all kinds of birth control. However, taking both hormonal birth control and melatonin together can lead to increased melatonin levels in the body. Some researchers have linked higher melatonin levels to infertility.

  • How much melatonin should you take when you’re on birth control?

    In the United States, melatonin is classified as a dietary supplement, making it even more important to discuss with your healthcare provider if you plan on taking it in combination with hormonal birth control. For adults, the common melatonin dosage range is from 0.5 milligrams to 5 milligrams and should be taken approximately one hour before bedtime.

  • Is weight gain a side effect of melatonin?

    Some research studies suggest that there may be a link between weight gain and lower levels of melatonin. A 2014 study found that lower levels of melatonin secretion in the winter can increase appetite and lead to weight gain.

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10 Sources
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