Long gone are the days when professionals and health officials attempted to claim cigarettes had health benefits. We all know smoking is associated with a variety of health complications including heart disease and cancer. If you are a smoker AND take birth control, your odds of facing complications are even higher.
Here’s why cigarettes and birth control pills are a lethal combo:
Health Issues of Cigarettes Alone
Without even factoring in hormonal birth control, let’s look at just a few of the many health issues related to cigarettes.
- Nicotine leads to high blood pressure and increased heart rate
- Lung cancer
- Chronic bronchitis
- Hearing loss
- Blindness and night vision
Why Birth Control Pills And Cigarettes Cause Issues
When you combine the effects of nicotine with those of birth control pills, you have an increased chance of stroke and heart attack. That’s because nicotine causes blood pressure to rise and heart rate to accelerate. The pill adds more stress to the blood vessels because of the extra estrogen.
While even light smoking can have an interaction with the pill, it’s believed that the risk of having heart issues is slightly lower in those who smoke fewer than 15 in a day but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other side effects. These can include heart attacks, blood clots and strokes.
When you add family history factors to the mix, the odds of complications increases once again. Women who have a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure or high cholesterol make smoking and taking the pill even more dangerous.
To put the idea of “greater risk” into tangible numbers, it’s been found through research that when a woman smokes, she increases her chance of having a first-time heart attack 30 times if she smokes 25 cigarettes a day.
You may have read that women who smoke and are over 35 years of age shouldn’t take the pill, however, health professionals don’t recommend that even women under 35 continuing smoking if they are using hormonal contraception.
So what if you aren’t planning on quitting and you need a birth control method? The first thing is to be totally honest with your doctor. He or she may recommend the “mini pill,” which doesn’t contain any estrogen. This progestin-only pill typically does not carry the same risk to smokers the the combination pill does. Don’t worry, if a hormonal method isn’t recommended, there are plenty of other methods to choose from!