In my 18-year-old-daughthers senior year 9 out of 11 girls smoke while simultaneously taking birth control pills. Whenever I have a conversation with one of them and ask her if she knows how dangerous birth control pills are for smokers the answer is always: no. It amazes me each time, that none of the girls have a clue.
No one has ever told them. I often notice the same thing with other women – apparently very few are informed that this combination is a time bomb. After I explain the risks most of them rethink their decision of taking birth control pills – or they even consider quitting smoking once and for all. But they must first of all know which health risk they are exposing themselves to, to make a decision like this.
Birth control pills today are considered to be relatively harmless for healthy young women. However, this safety is dramatically reduced when women smoke in addition. The risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack or stroke then increases significantly, especially if they smoke more than 15 cigarettes a day. In women over 35 years the health risk also drastically increases when combining smoking and birth control pills. For patients with hypertension, diabetes or heart disease, the birth control pill in combination with nicotine is of course particularly dangerous, because they are already at an advantaged risk of strokes or heart attacks due to their disorder.
If you take the pill as a smoker, then please seek advice from your doctor, if you should possibly choose another method of contraception – especially if you already have diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
Or even better yet: perhaps the decision to quit smoking will come easier if you know about the additional risk.