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June 22, 2006

Smoking while using birth control. Is it dangerous?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ashlynn @ 10:12 am

There are several health risks that go along specifically with smoking while on combined hormone methods like birth control pills or the Patch. Combined hormone methods contain both synthetic estrogen and progestin. They mimic the hormones produced by a woman’s ovaries. Usually, these hormones prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg (ovulation). They can also thicken the cervical mucus, which prevents sperm from joining with an egg.

Smoking while using birth control pills, the Patch, or NuvaRing can be dangerous.

Women who use combined hormone birth control types and smoke cigarettes can have very serious health risks. The older the woman is and the more she smokes, the greater the danger. Risk of death is much higher for women 35 and older who smoke and use combined hormone methods than it is for nonsmokers. Women 35 and over who smoke and use a combined hormone birth control type are nearly 10 times more likely to have a heart attack than women who don’t smoke or use one of these methods.

If you want to use the Pill, the Patch or NuvaRing and are 35 or older and smoke, be prepared to give up one or the other.

This is especially true if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or elevated cholesterol, because these conditions further heighten the risk of heart attack or stroke.

If you cannot quit smoking, you must choose another birth control type. Trying to stop smoking is not easy. The physical withdrawal could last only two weeks, but the psychological addiction is a longer and more difficult path to follow. But take heart, within one year of quitting, a smoker’s risk of heart disease is cut by half. Five years after quitting, an ex-smoker’s chance of heart attack and stroke drops to about the same as the risk of someone who never smoked at all.

Ten years after quitting, an ex-smoker’s risk of developing lung cancer is reduced to about the same as a nonsmoker’s risk.

Some smoking facts.

  • Women who smoke die nearly seven years earlier than nonsmokers.
  • Women who smoke are 13 times as likely as nonsmokers to develop lung cancer – the number one cause of cancer death for North American women.
  • Smokers are nearly four times as likely as nonsmokers to develop cervical cancer.
  • Smokers have twice as much heart disease as nonsmokers – those who smoke two packs or more a day have three times as much heart disease.
  • Smoking is also associated with cancers of the bladder, colon, esophagus, kidney, liver, mouth, pancreas, rectum, stomach, and throat.
  • Smoking seems to stimulate the recurrence of genital warts.
  • Smoking is associated with early menopause.
  • Smoking is associated with decreased fertility. Women who smoke take longer to get pregnant than nonsmokers. Smokers also have much higher rates of miscarriage.

Smoking during pregnancy:

  • Causes premature birth
  • Leads to low birth weight, which causes other health problems
  • Increases the risk of infant death just after birth by 25 percent

Helpful tips to stop smoking:

There is no “safe” level of smoking. But the less you smoke, the fewer risks you run.

  • Don’t smoke down to the end of the cigarette.
  • Take fewer puffs on a cigarette.
  • Cut down the amount you inhale.
  • Cut down the number of cigarettes you smoke each day.
  • Try using a nicotine substitute – skin patch or chewing gum.
  • Talk to your doctor about prescription medication that can help you.
  • Chew sugarless gum.
  • Keep a list of reasons you want to quit and refer to it often.
  • Enlist the support of family and friends.

BirthControlBuzz is a service company that provides birth control prices, birth control types (prescription required), health administrative services, and birth control statistics predominantly to US patients seeking to purchase pharmaceuticals on-line.

For more information, call 1-866-732-0305 or visit http://www.birthcontrolbuzz.com/.

Birth Control Buzz is a service company that provides birth control prices, types of birth control(prescription required), health administrative services, and birth control statistics predominantly to US patients seeking to purchase pharmaceuticals on-line. For more information, call 1-866-868-8850 or visit http://www.birthcontrolbuzz.com/.


  1. My name is Kayla…Im 15. Ive been on the pill for close to a year now…and have been smoking during the time of being on the pill, and before. MY family is very High Risk for cancer. Every member has died because of smoking in younger days. Me being on the pill and smoking…Will I develope cancer early?

    Comment by Kayla — June 19, 2011 @ 7:28 pm

  2. Dear Kayla,

    Smoking in general will increase your risk for cancer on it’s own. Smoking and being on the pill will increase your risk for fatal blood clots, heart attack, and stroke. It is highly recommended that you quit smoking to decrease your risk for cancer, fatal blood clots, heart attack, and stroke.

    Comment by Janine — June 20, 2011 @ 10:02 am

  3. I am 17 and on the pill, I just wanted to know if smoking every once in a while will be harmful while on the pill. I rarely smoke, maybe like once a month I’ll have one with friends. I’m not addicted and I’m careful not to make a habit of it so I won’t get addicted. I was just wondering if it has any major effects i should be worried about because of the B.C.

    Comment by Rachel — September 1, 2011 @ 10:07 pm

  4. Dear Rachel,

    When your doctor prescribed you birth control pills, he/she would have explained to you about smoking and being on the pill. If he/she didn’t, you can also read up on it from the instructions/warning’s information sheet within the package of birth control that you get every month. I highly recommend you to not smoke while on the pill because it can lead to very serious health risks. You can find more information on our blog about the health risks related to oral contraception and smoking: http://www.birthcontrolbuzz.com/blog/2006/06/smoking-while-using-birth-control-is-it-dangerous.html

    Comment by Janine — September 6, 2011 @ 9:50 am

  5. I just started the pill, but it is just for acne.. does smoking still effect that type of pill in a bad way

    Comment by Ashley — October 4, 2011 @ 7:20 pm

  6. Dear Ashley,

    The health risks still apply for you if you are a smoker and take the pill.

    Comment by Janine — October 5, 2011 @ 6:39 am

  7. what are the actual percentage numbers of women having health related problems from smoking while on the pill?

    Comment by mal — November 1, 2011 @ 3:58 pm

  8. I am 18 years old and do smoke. I have been on the pill since i started my period pretty much due to bad cramps heavy heavy periods. Are there other birth control methods that have less of a risk? I have been reading up that they can cause blood clots, just trying to see what my options are… Or does those things not apply because we are younger?

    Comment by Erica — November 2, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

  9. Dear Mal,

    According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization, woman who smoked and did take oral contraceptives had 7 times higher risk of stroke compared with women who did smoke but did NOT take oral contraceptives. Women who smoked and did not take contraceptives only had 1.3 times the risk of stroke.

    Comment by Janine — November 4, 2011 @ 9:29 am

  10. Dear Erica,

    If you are an 18 year old smoker on birth control, your risk of stroke, clots, etc is less than a 35+ smoker on birth control, but is still a lot higher than an 18 year old non smoker on birth control. As you age, your risk will increase and when you get to the age of 35, you should either quit smoking or come off of the pill because your risk of stroke, clots, etc is so high that it outweighs the benefit of birth control.

    I believe all hormonal birth control methods offer the same warning of risks, especially for smokers. The only birth control with less of a risk for stroke, clots, etc, is the non hormonal contraceptives (ie. condoms and spermicide).

    Comment by Janine — November 4, 2011 @ 11:48 am

  11. How high exactly is the risk of stroke, clots, etc for smokers over 35 on the pill? For example, if in the general population the risk is 1%, then for a smoker it would be 7%. Still not a seemingly high risk.

    Comment by Bridget — November 15, 2011 @ 7:39 am

  12. Dear Bridget,

    A study that was conducted by an epidemiologist at Boston University School of Medicine in Brookline, Mass., indicates that women on a low dose birth control pill and smoke more than 25 cigarettes a day are 30 times more likely to have a first-time heart attack. The risk is lower for light and non-smokers. For more information on this study, please visit: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11322840.

    Comment by Janine — November 18, 2011 @ 10:00 am

  13. Im 14 years old and just started the pill today and Ive been researching the dangers of smoking and being on the pill… I’m only on the pill for my period so it’s not an option to stop the pill… I only smoke once a week with y friends and I’m not addicted. Since I’m so young and don’t smoke that often, what are my chances for a heart attack or blood clot?

    Comment by Mary — December 25, 2011 @ 10:23 am

  14. Dear Mary,

    Chances for a heart attack or blood clot for you right now is low because you are only 14 years old. I do recommend you to quit smoking because when you get older, you may still be on the pill for your period and it may be harder for you to quit smoking after being a smoker for a long time.

    Comment by Janine — January 4, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

  15. Ok I’ve been reading up on this I’m very terrified because I’m 18 I’ve been on birth control since may of last year I started smoking around November and reading all these messages it really worries me. So what should I do?! Being on birth control scares me enough but being on birth control and being a smoker really frightens me.

    Comment by Detrana Brown — January 23, 2012 @ 10:54 pm

  16. Dear Detrana,

    I would highly advise you to quit smoking because there are no health benefits for smoking at all. Birth Control pills will prevent you from pregnancy, if you are sexually active you should stay on it.

    Comment by Janine — January 24, 2012 @ 9:47 am

  17. Ok so my next question is when I do plan to stop taking birth control me smoking in the past will that prevent me from getting pregnant in the future?

    Comment by Detrana Brown — January 25, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

  18. Dear Detrana,

    If you stop taking birth control, there will be nothing to prevent you from getting pregnant. If you want to prevent pregnancy, stay on the birth control. Smoking has nothing to do with preventing pregnancy, it only increases your risk for severe side effects mentioned in all birth control packets and also your doctor before he/she prescribes you the pill.

    Comment by Janine — January 26, 2012 @ 10:30 am

  19. Hi! I’m 26 years old and taking birth control for the first time. I keep having chest pains and I am trying to figure out what is going on. I am a pack a day smoker. I know the risk of heart problems heightens at 35, but what if I was involved in taking street drugs when I was younger? (Cocaine and ecstacy..). Although this was over 5 years ago, I’m concerned that the stress that the drugs put on my heart is putting me at a higher risk than other women my age

    Comment by Jen — February 18, 2012 @ 8:55 am

  20. Dear Jen,

    I would advise you to stop taking the pills for a month to see if the chest pains go away. If it goes away then it is the pills causing the pains. In this case you should meet with your doctor to find out what other birth control options out there that is safe for you. If the chest pains doesn’t go away after you stopped the birth control pills for a month, you should check in with your doctor about these pains and let him/her know that the chest pains isn’t caused by the birth control pills so they can properly diagnose you.

    Comment by Janine — February 20, 2012 @ 10:35 am

  21. Hi, i am 31 yrs old and have been on mirena now for 7 days. I smoke between 1-4 cigarettes a day. Is mirena lower risk than taking a combination birthcontrol while smoking or is it equally the same?

    Comment by Naomi — March 14, 2012 @ 8:40 pm

  22. Dear Naomi,

    Hormonal contraceptives, including Mirena, which uses a progestin to prevent pregnancy, can increase the risk of blood clotting or stroke in some women. Smoking also increases this risk, so if you choose to smoke while using Mirena, you need to watch for signs of clotting, including sharp pains in the body, swelling, discoloration of the skin, shortness of breath, visual disturbances or confusion.
    The risk is not as much as birth control pills . The copper T IUD does not have a hormone on it and may be used to reduce the risk if smoking still continues.

    Comment by Janine — March 21, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

  23. I am on the birth control pill and quit smoking cigarette 3 weeks ago. I am using the electronic cigarette to help. Is the electronic cigarette safe to use while taking the pill. I am 45 soon to be 46.

    Comment by Mona — April 28, 2012 @ 10:51 am

  24. Dear Mona,

    There is currently no scientific evidence that proves electronic cigarettes affects birth control pills. I can’t see how electronic cigarettes that helps you quit smoking is any worse than being a regular smoker. Congratulations for being a 3 week non smoker! Keep up the great work 🙂

    Comment by Janine — May 1, 2012 @ 9:46 am

  25. Hi my name is Stefanie I am 28 years old. After my first child when I was 20, I got on the depo shot and did not smoke. I was on that for 5 years. Then after 5 years I quit the depo and got preg and had my second child at 26. After he was born I started smoking again but I got on the implannon. I have lost a tremendous amount of weight. Im almost down to 100 lbs. My question is, do you think the smoking while im on the implanon has something to do with the weight loss? Thanks

    Comment by Stefanie — May 5, 2012 @ 3:22 pm

  26. Dear Stefanie,

    The smoking definitely has something to do with the weight loss.

    Comment by Janine — May 7, 2012 @ 10:01 am

  27. im 21 an have been on bc pill since i was 12 and i smoke an just had a stroke a few days ago that left my smile messed up. IT does happen.

    Comment by jyl — June 28, 2012 @ 11:43 pm

  28. I am 19 years old. I just stopped using the pill because of other personal reasons and because I strongly loathe the feeling of being nauseated that badly. Is it okay for me to smoke afterwards, while not using the pill any longer? Will my chances of having a stroke sooner develop even if I quit the pill? Getting to the point, will I die when I am 35+ years old?

    Comment by Amy — August 18, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

  29. Dear Amy,

    Smoking after stopping the pill will not increase your risk any more than before you are on the pill. Keep in mind that your risk will increase by age and depending on your medical history, you may or may not die when you are 35+ years old.

    Comment by Janine — August 20, 2012 @ 1:21 am

  30. my name is beth and i started taking the pill when i was 14, due to cramps really bad cramps. im now 37 and smoke ive had my tubes done and im not on the pill however i now have vuivodynia my doctor said to take floragen and no sugar.since ive been off the pill ive had nothing but problems.what are my chances with smoking and being on the pill?

    Comment by beth — August 31, 2012 @ 5:05 am

  31. Dear Beth,

    I would not recommend you to go back on the pill because the risks for blood clots, heart attack, and stroke are much higher for women who smokes and are 35 and over.

    Comment by Janine — September 4, 2012 @ 1:50 am

  32. I’m 17, and I smoke a cigarette once every 2 days, and maybe 3 in one day, every few weeks when I go out. I just started taking apri today, what is my risk?

    Comment by Gia — September 30, 2012 @ 5:28 am

  33. Dear Gia,

    Your risk for stroke, heart attack, and blood clots are higher than a non-smoker who is on the pill at your age. If you continue to smoke until you are 35 and over, it is highly recommended you come off the pill because your risk for potential fatal blood clots, heart attack, and stroke becomes exceptionally higher.

    Comment by Janine — October 1, 2012 @ 1:36 am

  34. im 18 and been on ortho mcneil birth control for 5 months. i smoke and i have chest pain and abdonmial pain. i have pains in my left arm and have shortness of breathe, cold sweats and nausea and other times i have aches in my arms and legs whats wrong and what should i do?

    Comment by Brittany — November 14, 2012 @ 8:26 am

  35. Dear Brittany,

    I would strongly advise you to stop taking ortho mcneil and see your doctor at your earliest convenience. Use back up contraception (ie. condoms or spermicide) for the time being.

    Comment by Janine — November 15, 2012 @ 1:43 am

  36. I’m turning 17 in October and have been smoking for almost a year now. I’m thinking about trying birth control and was wondering if there are safe forms of birth control and smoking, like the IUDs? And also if the birth control is still as effective for smokers to nonsmokers?

    Comment by jade — March 18, 2013 @ 7:05 am

  37. Dear jade,

    IUD’s are safe for smokers and it is effective for smokers and non smokers. I would advise you to speak to your doctor about the IUD’s that are available to you.

    Comment by Janine — March 19, 2013 @ 2:55 am

  38. I am 39 and I smoke 7 cigarettes a day I work out and eat healthy I just started my birth control, low dose smoking is my only vice. Would a electronic cigarette benefit me?

    Comment by Chris — April 22, 2013 @ 1:45 pm

  39. Dear Chris,

    There are no studies at the moment to show that women on birth control pills and use electronic cigarettes share the same risks as regular cigarettes. I don’t see why it would be a problem if your plan to use electronic cigarettes is to reduce the amount of cigarettes you smoke per day or to quit altogether.

    Comment by Janine — April 24, 2013 @ 4:54 am

  40. I’m 41 years old, quit smoking approx 3 weeks ago, used lowest dose of nicotene patch until 1 week ago. My previous smoking history was 1/2 pack per day. I work out 3 times a week, bmi is 20. Occassional migraines (1 every 3 months). I am due to start low dose combination birth control in about 10 days. What is my risk (in general for stroke)? Is it 10 % , 30 of 1000?

    Comment by Mary — May 8, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

  41. Dear Mary,

    Your risk for stroke or any other heart related diseases will drastically decline due to the fact that you are quitting smoking. Way to go! Your risk will be the same as a non smoker which is 0.9 to 1.7 times higher with a low dose pill and 1.3 to 2.3 higher on a higher dose pill.

    Comment by Janine — May 13, 2013 @ 5:53 pm

  42. I am 18 years old, 1/2pk a day smoker, and have GAD, OCD, MDD, and bipolar. I’ve been on lo loestrin fe for my period for 3ish weeks. I was having chest pains before I started smoking again and before I got on the pill. now, however, I’m getting frequent migraine, cold sweats, nausea, loss of appetite… I guess I’m just wondering if the new symptoms are from smoking while on the pill or because of my other health problems. im also a recovering anorexic.

    Comment by isa — May 15, 2013 @ 11:25 pm

  43. Dear isa,

    Since you have only been on lo loestrin fe for 3-4 weeks, these side effects you are experiencing may be temporary and will go away after being on the pill for 3 months. If these symptoms continue after being on the pill for more than 3 months you should let your doctor know about these symptoms.

    Comment by Janine — May 22, 2013 @ 8:22 am

  44. Hi,

    I’m 23 just started using nuvaring and I smoke about 7-8 cigarettes a day, I’m concerned about side effects and everything I have read, if I cut down my cigarette intake but still smoke about 4 cigarettes a day would that help at all to prevent side effects? And what would be the side effects that I would undergo since I don’t smoke 15 cigerettes a day and not over 35 but it says everywhere that you are advised to quit while using nuvaring, I just wanted to know if there’s a gray area so I can start to gradually quit without having serious side effects but do it on my own terms.

    Comment by Krys — September 13, 2013 @ 11:48 am

  45. Dear Krys,

    I’m sorry to inform you that there is no gray area for girls who smoke and go on birth control. The side effects of being on Nuvaring will reduce significantly when you do quit smoking. If you are planning on quitting smoking, use condoms for the time being until you have quit smoking entirely. Once you have quit smoking, you can then go back on Nuvaring for a reduced risk of the side effects from Nuvaring.

    Comment by Janine — September 16, 2013 @ 9:37 am

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