Contraceptives and tobacco… Are they compatible?

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Women smokers who take one type of hormonal contraceptive have a higher risk of suffering some of its side effects

Today, almost four in ten women smoke. This figure increases when it comes to women of childbearing age, that is to say, those who may get pregnant. If these women wish to avoid such an outcome by taking hormonal contraceptives, they will have a higher chance of suffering some of their side effects due to the fact that they are smokers.

Tobacco has a negative effect on the smoker’s health, man or woman, by increasing the risk of suffering cancer of the lung or mouth, as well as cardio-respiratory problems among others. For women, it may also cause changes in the menstrual cycle, worsen the prognosis of a lesion in the cervix and cause pregnancy disorders. If, in addition, they take hormonal contraceptives, they have an increased risk of thrombosis and heart attack.

There are two types of hormonal contraception on the market: combined hormonal contraceptives (CHCs), which contain oestrogen and progestogen, and the commonly called mini pills, which are progestogen-only pills. The mini pills have the same efficacy as other hormonal contraceptives, and are taken continuously – one pill is taken orally every day – without a one-week break.

The most suitable contraceptive, depending on your age

In female smokers under the age of 35, the risk of suffering some kind of cardiovascular problem is lower and for this reason they can take the two types of contraceptives with a certain degree of reassurance. Among female smokers aged over-35, however, the use of CHCs is contraindicated, in view of the fact that, because of their age, the cardiovascular risk is higher.

If you are a smoker and want to take hormonal contraceptives, it is important that you ask your doctor for advice: she will tell you which method is better for you, depending on your age and situation.