Can You Smoke While on Birth Control?

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There are many different ways to smoke, including vaping and nicotine or marijuana cigarettes. Research indicates that smoking can have severe health implications. Smoking is associated with a higher risk of certain cancers, such as cancer in the lungs, throat, mouth, cervix, pancreas, and bladder. It also increases the risk of cardiovascular problems and premature death.

Healthcare professionals advise against smoking because of the toll it can take on the human body. When smoking is coupled with birth control, there is an increased risk of potential heart problems, raised blood pressure, and stroke.

This article will discuss what you need to know about smoking and birth control.

Woman smoking in outdoor cafe
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Smoking and Birth Control

Few studies have evaluated the relationship between smoking and birth control. However, one review of the literature examining the association found that smoking while taking oral contraceptives could increase nicotine metabolism and the body’s stress response.

The combination birth control pill contains estrogen and progestin. Increased estrogen levels can cause changes to a person’s blood, which heightens their risk of getting blood clots. For this reason, Planned Parenthood recommends that progestin-only pills may be a better option for smokers if you continue to smoke.

Individuals over the age of 35 considering birth control should consult with a healthcare provider, as their risk for health problems may be elevated due to factors such as smoking, hypertension, diabetes, or vascular diseases.

The risk of stroke or heart attack can increase with age and the use of birth control pills due to the impacts of smoking. If an individual has already survived a heart attack, stroke, or blood clot, talking with a healthcare provider is recommended to determine the safest and most effective method of birth control.

The patch, pill, and ring (NuvaRing) are not recommended for individuals who smoke.

Smoking and Hormonal Birth Control

Smoking in combination with taking hormonal birth control pills, the patch, or using the ring can pose significant risks to your health, such as a heightened risk for heart and vascular problems. Consulting with your healthcare provider is the best way to identify and discuss all of the birth control options available to you.

Vaping vs. Cigarettes

Research is lacking on smoking and the use of birth control in general. Because vaping is a newer method of smoking, there is insufficient research to draw conclusions.

However, the common ingredient between cigarettes and vapes is nicotine. Therefore, when considering the risks smoking cigarettes pose while taking birth control—such as the increased risk of heart problems, blood clots, and stroke—and factoring in the same main ingredient with vapes, it’s possible that vapes may cause similar issues.

Still, further research will lead to a better understanding.

Nicotine

Nicotine is harmful to the heart. It can lead to increases in blood pressure and heart rate. The combination of these symptoms may result in a heart attack, which can be fatal.

Smoking can also cause blood to thicken, which increases the risk of stroke or blood clots.

Nicotine Use

It is important to keep in mind that nicotine is present in cigarettes and vapes, so the risk increases regardless of what smoking method a person chooses.

Marijuana

There is also a lack of evidence exploring the combination of smoking marijuana while using birth control.

Like with nicotine, smoking marijuana may cause blood pressure problems. More research on this topic will provide better insight into the relationship.

Still, a healthcare professional may not prescribe certain forms of birth control if a patient is actively smoking marijuana.

When to Talk to Your Doctor

If you are a smoker, setting up an appointment with your healthcare provider before introducing any new medications to discuss the pros, cons, and possible complications can help you make an informed decision about your health.

Summary

Smoking increases your risk for serious health conditions regardless of birth control use, but adding oral contraceptives to the mix may complicate things even further.

If you are a smoker over the age of 35, the combination pill is not recommended due to the estrogen it contains, along with the potential risk for heart problems and blood clots. You may be able to use a progestin-only pill instead.

While more research needs to be conducted to understand the implications of smoking marijuana, cigarettes, and vapes while using oral birth control methods, non-hormonal methods such as the copper IUD may serve as better options for smokers.

A Word From Verywell

If you are a smoker, you may have questions about how taking birth control can pose further risks to your health. Talk to a healthcare provider to discuss these complications or to seek further information and resources about how to quit smoking.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can nicotine cancel out birth control?

    Consuming nicotine in combination with birth control pills can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular problems. Though it cannot cancel out birth control, it can lead to other dangerous health problems.

  • Is vaping safer than smoking?

    Lack of research on the use of vapes, cigarettes, and smoking makes it difficult to conclude which is safer. Ultimately, vapes and cigarettes contain the same active ingredient (nicotine), which could mean they are both risky to use while on birth control due to the effect of nicotine on the body. Further research needs to be conducted in this area.

  • Is it safe to smoke while using an IUD?

    Research indicates that IUDs, as a non-estrogen method of contraception, may be safer for people who smoke. However, it is always essential to talk with your healthcare provider about any substances you are using and medications you are taking, as there may be other potential complications.

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6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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