Although the risks of smoking and taking birth control pills have been well documented for several years, many women are still unaware of how lethal the combination can really be. Here are eight things you should know about the dangers of smoking while taking birth control pills. Even if you are not taking any kind of contraceptives, one thing is clear: the best way to protect all aspects of your health is to refrain from smoking.
1) Smoking while taking birth control pills is one of the worst things you can do for your heart health. Smoking, while taking birth control pills, can increase your risk of a heart attack dramatically. The more you smoke, and the older you are, the higher the risk. In fact, a recent study found that women over the age of 35 years who smoke 25 or more cigarettes a day have a 30 times higher risk of experiencing a first time heart attack!
The risk of smoking while taking a daily birth control is so well documented and so elevated, that your doctor or gynecologist may refuse to prescribe you birth control pills if you are a over 35 and a smoker because of the potential damage to your cardiovascular health.
Many doctors recommend that women over 35 who are taking a daily low-dose birth control pill also refrain from using nicotine patch or nicotine gum products. Even though the patch and nicotine gum products are much safer than smoking, they can still present a threat to women who have high blood pressure, or who are diabetic or overweight.
3) Heart attacks aren't the only potential dangers that have been identified with smoking heavily while taking birth control medications. The chance of suffering from blood clots or a stroke also rise significantly as a woman ages, especially if she is a heavy smoker who regularly takes birth control pills. Women who smoke while taking birth control medications also risk developing high blood pressure.
4) Women who smoke heavily and take birth control pills are more likely to suffer from adverse side effects. Most prescription drugs harbor some kind of side effect. The chances of experiencing side effects from your birth control medications may increase if you are regular or heavy smoker.
5) Smoking can be harmful to your reproductive health. If, like many women, you decide to discontinue use of your birth control pills to try to conceive, you may experience difficulty in getting pregnant. Research has shown that women who smoke regularly can take considerably longer to conceive than non-smokers. In one study, women who smoked 16 to 20 cigarettes each day were 20% less likely to conceive and give birth within their first year of trying. If you are trying to conceive, quitting smoking may be the best things you can due to increase fertility.
6) Smoking can increase your chances of having a difficult pregnancy. Besides hindering your ability to conceive, smoking dramatically increases your chances of having a difficult pregnancy. While smoking is obviously harmful to the fetus, smoking can also cause spontaneous abortions or a stillbirth. Some studies have even found that women who smoke heavily deliver infants who are at a 25% higher risk of dying shortly after birth.
7) Besides the potential harm to your cardiovascular health, smoking while taking conventional low-dose daily birth control medications has also been linked with a significantly increased risk of developing gallbladder disease, vision problems, and liver tumors.
8) What about the "patch?" Does the risk associated with smoking and birth control also apply to other methods of birth control? Yes?at least all hormonal birth control methods. The "patch" is a hormonal birth control method, so the risks of smoking also apply to the patch. Moreover, the risks of using the patch become significantly increased if you are a smoker.
Obviously, the risks of smoking while taking birth control medications can be quite serious. What should you do? If you need to take birth control medications, you must be willing to quit smoking. While the risks of developing serious cardiovascular problems under the age of 30 are quite low, the dangers of smoking while taking contraceptives quickly become very pronounced as you age.