Birth Control vs. Grapefruit

Published: January 29, 2019Updated: December 8, 2020
Can grapefruit make your birth control ineffective? | SimpleHealth

Ever heard that eating grapefruit can interact with your birth control? Well, it’s true...sort of. Here’s the deal.

Can grapefruit make your birth control ineffective?

Grapefruit actually interacts with hundreds of medications, one of which is hormonal birth control. 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: if you're on birth control, grapefruit is safe to eat (in moderation)

What does that all mean? 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, and cut back on your grapefruit intake in the meantime.

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