Birth Control vs. Grapefruit

SimpleHealth
SimpleHealth
Published: January 29, 2019Updated: April 8, 2022
Does grapefruit affect birth control? Grapefruit and the pill | Simple Health

Ever heard that eating grapefruit can interact with your birth control? Well, it’s true...sort of. Here’s the deal with grapefruit and the pill (and other forms of hormonal birth control).

Does grapefruit affect birth control?

Grapefruit actually interacts with hundreds of medications, one of which is hormonal birth control (like the pill). Grapefruit contains compounds called furanocoumarins that inhibit CYP3A4 enzymes, important intestinal enzymes that metabolize estrogen. This means that grapefruit prevents your body from properly breaking down the estrogen in birth control, leaving you with more estrogen in your system than the drug intended. The excess estrogen in your bloodstream can potentially worsen estrogen-induced side effects, such as nausea, breast tenderness, and risk of developing blood clots and breast cancer. All that being said, there are no scientific studies proving this to be the case, just noted interactions between grapefruit and estrogen metabolization.

Takeaway: Grapefruit and the pill can coexist (in moderation)

What does that all mean? Does grapefruit affect birth control? The takeaway here is that grapefruit and birth control are largely safe to take together in terms of preventing pregnancy (i.e. if you’re on the pill and you eat a grapefruit, you’re not going to get pregnant). However, if you eat a lot of grapefruit on a regular basis (say one a day, or a glass of grapefruit juice a day) and you start experiencing concerning side effects from your birth control, the grapefruit might be the culprit. If you’re worried, have a chat with your doctor about your options for enjoying grapefruit and the pill, and cut back on your grapefruit intake in the meantime.

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