June 21, 2019 5 min read

CBD is known for its surprisingly wide array of potential health benefits, some of which include relief that applies specifically to women, like relievingmenstrual cramps or related nausea. That’s why so many CBD brands market towards women, and why so many women have incorporated CBD into their regular wellness and beauty routines. That’s also why important questions have been on the rise, one of which we are going to answer today: Can CBD interact with birth control pills?

There are many options for birth control, but most of them play a similar role in changing the balance of hormones in the body to prevent pregnancy. Since the endocannabinoid system may have a direct impact on the body’s hormone production, it’s fair to suspect interactions between CBD and birth control pills. Plus, researchers have uncovered other ways thatCBD may interact with common medications that may apply to hormone-based medications as well.

Understanding the potential for reactions and working closely with your doctor to design your CBD routine is the best way to avoid an adverse reaction, though it should be noted that theside effects of CBD are rare and usually mild. If you’re on hormonal birth control and want to begin using CBD, there are a few things you need to know first.

Effect on Hormones: CBD and Birth Control

Before you can understand the impact that CBD may have on hormonal birth control, you’ll need to understand the way that CBD interacts with the body. When CBD molecules (and other cannabinoids) enter the body, they interact with the body’s Endocannabinoid System, a system of neuroreceptors that spans through every organ and plays a large role in most basic processes.

Hormones are chemicals responsible for a range of bodily functions, including appetite and metabolism, mood, growth and development, sexuality, and more. Hormones are produced by the endocrine system, which also includes multiple glands throughout the body.

CBD interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors in order to activate the endocrine system, which is how CBD can have a direct impact on hormones. Since we know that CBD does affect hormone production, we obviously understand that it may react with hormonal medications. But how do CBD and birth control interact?

Onestudy suggests that CBD binds with estrogen receptors in the reproductive system. This means that it competes with estradiol, one major female hormone that also binds with these receptors. By reducing the amount of estradiol that can bind with neuroreceptors, CBD may affect the efficacy of some hormonal birth control, specifically estrogen-based medications. There is no known impact on progesterone based medications.

Research has shown that CBD may interact with other hormones in ways that could be beneficial, like positively affectinginsulin levels or decreasing levels ofcortisol, the stress hormone. However, we don’t have enough information to determine how CBD specifically interacts with certain hormonal birth control medications. We do know that CBD may interact with most medications in one common way, through liver enzymes.

Studies have shown that CBD utilizes cytochrome P450 pathways when metabolized by the body. This group of liver enzymes is also responsible for metabolizing most of the medications you can get over the counter or by prescription today. For this reason, CBD may decrease the absorption of certain medications, which may make them less effective. Most hormonal birth control medications utilize this pathway for absorption, which outlines a clear interaction between CBD and birth control.

Of course, with so little evidence, it’s hard to say if the effect is significant enough to worry. The effect that CBD has on these liver enzymes is only temporary, and many people find that CBD can be taken alongside their medications, as long as the doses are properly spaced out.

CBD May Combat Side Effects of Birth Control

Although reports suggest that CBD could impact certain high-estrogen contraceptives, others display therapeutic effects that may help relieve the unwanted side effects common to many birth control methods. One woman said starting Sprintec, a popular combination birth control pill,severely irritated her anxiety due to a history of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. For two weeks, her experience with the pill was less than pleasant. She said "I have been an absolute mess. I have been anxious all the time, I've had TWO full-blown panic attacks." She goes further to explain that she also experienced mood swings and bouts of depression, and as any of us would, she was desperately seeking a cure.

After a quick trip to her local vape shop, where she retrieved a bottle of CBD vape oil, her anxiety was immediately at ease. "I've been using it for the past two days. Needless to say, it has made an enormous difference. I feel the effects immediately, and I've just overall been more stable and mellow. It's actually pretty mind-blowing how effective it has been."

Other side effects of birth control that may respond well to CBD include headaches, nausea and vomiting, orweight gain. Although birth control is often prescribed to help manage the symptoms related to a heavy menstrual cycle, they can sometimes make it worse.CBD topicals may be useful for combating pain due to menstrual cramps. Of course, because there is only limited evidence regarding the interactions between CBD and hormonal medication (and there are so many different types of birth control) it's always best to proceed with caution.

Final Thoughts: Can You Take CBD and Birth Control Pills Together?

Now for the important questions: Can you start taking CBD if you are already on hormonal birth control? Should you stop taking CBD to start birth control medication? Because we don’t have much evidence, the answers aren’t so simple.

Anecdotal reports have suggested that many people have taken CBD to combat the side effects of birth control without complications. Reports exist claiming purely the opposite as well, but it's important to remember that the majority of these claims are purely anecdotal.

In reality, the potential of interaction between birth control and CBD may depend on many factors, like the type of birth control, the amount of each medication taken, and biological factors that are unique to you. Most importantly, many medications can be used together, so long as they aren't taken at the exact same time.

When you want to combine CBD with other medications, it's always best to play it safe. Talk to your doctor before starting CBD, especially if you take hormonal birth control or other prescription medications. Your doctor will be able to better identify the risks and benefits of combining CBD and your birth control.

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