Does Grapefruit Juice Affect Birth Control Pill Use?

If you’re on the birth control pill, you’re probably aware that using certain medications, such as antibiotics, can cause interactions. It might not occur to you that grapefruit juice can cause an interaction or adverse side effect, but it can. Here’s what all women who are using the birth control pill should know about how drinking grapefruit juice may affect them.

Increased Risk of Side Effects

The compounds in grapefruit juice have been found to suppress an intestinal enzyme, which can result in the levels of certain medications being increased by up to nine times their dosage, according to Health Services at Colombia University. Birth control pills containing estrogen have been linked to this intestinal enzyme suppression. Research has found that drugs which are linked to intestinal enzyme suppression may increase the risk of kidney impairment and low blood pressure, according to the University of Arizona Center for Education and Research on Therapeutics.

There was one case in which a woman experienced a blood clot while she was on a grapefruit juice diet. Although there is no evidence which shows that grapefruit juice causes blood clots for women using oral contraceptives, medics believe that grapefruit juice affected the way the woman’s body processed birth control pills and led to clotting, according to the BBC. If you are at a higher risk of blood clots because you are over 35, smoke cigarettes, or have a blood-clotting disorder, talk to your doctor about oral methods of contraception.

Does Grapefruit Juice Make the Pill Ineffective?

Grapefruit juice is commonly recommended to women who are infertile because it is believed to stimulate ovulation. Some women have found this method to be effective. In fact, some believe that the grapefruit juice is so strong that it stimulates ovulation even while you’re using the birth control pill. Keep in mind that there is no research which supports the idea that grapefruit juice stimulates ovulation for women who are using or not using the birth control pill. Taking the pill at the same time every day is the best way to reduce your chances of becoming pregnant while using oral contraceptives.

If you have questions about how grapefruit juice may interact with oral contraceptives, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider. Women who are at an increased risk of side effects from the pill may want to think about avoiding birth control pills or at least switching to a progesterone-only pill.

Disclosure: This article is intended for educational purposes only. Talk to a licensed healthcare provider if you’re concerned about your health.


Health Services at Colombia University
University of Arizona Center for Education and Research on Therapeutics

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