The combination of caffeine and birth control pills may generate a few mild side effects, including headaches, jitteriness and insomnia. Caffeine and birth control pills may also interact with other prescribed medications. If you currently take birth control pills and consume excess amounts of caffeine – more than four 8-oz. cups of coffee per day, for example – consider decreasing your intake. Caffeine taken in concert with birth control pills will not decrease the efficacy of the oral contraceptive in the prevention of pregnancy.
Decreased Caffeine Clearance
When you take birth control pills and ingest caffeine, the main impact of the oral contraceptives will be to hold the caffeine in your system longer. Typically the body breaks down caffeine immediately in order to remove it; however birth control pills reduce the speed by which the body performs this action. A 1980 study published in the “Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine” found that women on birth control pills held caffeine in their system nearly four hours longer than women not taking birth control pills 2.
- When you take birth control pills and ingest caffeine, the main impact of the oral contraceptives will be to hold the caffeine in your system longer.
- A 1980 study published in the “Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine” found that women on birth control pills held caffeine in their system nearly four hours longer than women not taking birth control pills 2.
Caffeine Headache Symptoms
The most common side effects associated with the combined use of caffeine and birth control pills include headaches, jitteriness, anxiety and an increased heart rate. Other side effects may include trouble falling asleep, as well as drowsiness. The severity of these side effects will depend largely on how much caffeine you ingest.
The combined presence of caffeine and birth control pills in the body may cause adverse reactions with other prescribed medications, including drugs such as Ativan, typically prescribed for anxiety and insomnia. Caffeine and birth control pills may reduce the effectiveness of this medication, so seek clearance from your physician or health care provider before you ingest caffeine, birth control pills and anti-anxiety medications.
Diuretic Effects of Caffeine
On another note, because the combination of caffeine and birth control pills appears to check the diuretic effect of caffeine, this also appears to limit the excretion of vital minerals such as:
- potassium from the body via the urine
A 2003 study conducted by Brazilian researchers and published in the “Journal of Nutrition” found that the female study participants who ingested caffeine while on birth control pills had significantly less urinary excretion of minerals compared to the participants who were not taking oral contraceptives at the time 4.
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Diuretic Effects of Caffeine
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- MedlinePlus: Caffeine in the Diet; David C. Dugdale, III, M.D. et al; May 2009
- "Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine"; Impaired Elimination of Caffeine by Oral Contraceptive Steroids; R.V.Patwardhan; April 1980
- Stanford School of Medicine What Meds: Psychiatric Medications
- "Journal of Nutrition"; Use of Oral Contraceptives Blunts the Calciuric Effect of Caffeine in Young Adult Women; M.A. Ribeiro-Alves et al.; February 2003
- Meredith SE, Juliano LM, Hughes JR, Griffiths RR. Caffeine Use Disorder: A Comprehensive Review and Research Agenda. J Caffeine Res. 2013;3(3):114-130. doi:10.1089/jcr.2013.0016
- Richards G, Smith AP. A Review of Energy Drinks and Mental Health, with a Focus on Stress, Anxiety, and Depression. J Caffeine Res. 2016;6(2):49-63. doi:10.1089/jcr.2015.0033
- Brunyé TT, Mahoney CR, Rapp DN, Ditman T, Taylor HA. Caffeine enhances real-world language processing: evidence from a proofreading task. J Exp Psychol Appl. 2012;18(1):95-108. doi:10.1037/a0025851
- Koppelstaetter F, Poeppel TD, Siedentopf CM, et al. Caffeine and cognition in functional magnetic resonance imaging. J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;20 Suppl 1:S71-84. doi:10.3233/JAD-2010-1417
- Harrell PT, Juliano LM. Caffeine expectancies influence the subjective and behavioral effects of caffeine. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2009;207(2):335-42. doi:10.1007/s00213-009-1658-5
- Lucas M, O'reilly EJ, Pan A, et al. Coffee, caffeine, and risk of completed suicide: results from three prospective cohorts of American adults. World J Biol Psychiatry. 2014;15(5):377-86. doi:10.3109/15622975.2013.795243
- Abdel-Hady H, Nasef N, Shabaan AE, Nour I. Caffeine therapy in preterm infants. World J Clin Pediatr. 2015;4(4):81-93. doi:10.5409/wjcp.v4.i4.81
- American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th edition. Washington DC; 2013.
- Turnbull D, Rodricks JV, Mariano GF, Chowdhury F. Caffeine and cardiovascular health. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2017;89:165-185. doi:10.1016/j.yrtph.2017.07.025
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol and Caffeine. Updated October 23, 2018.
- Alsunni AA. Energy Drink Consumption: Beneficial and Adverse Health Effects. Int J Health Sci (Qassim). 2015;9(4):468-474.
- Lyngsø J, Ramlau-Hansen CH, Bay B, Ingerslev HJ, Hulman A, Kesmodel US. Association between coffee or caffeine consumption and fecundity and fertility: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis. Clin Epidemiol. 2017;9:699-719. doi:10.2147/CLEP.S146496
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Pure and Highly Concentrated Caffeine. Updated September 21, 2018.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction. Updated July 2018.
Emma Cale has been writing professionally since 2000. Her work has appeared in “NOW Magazine,” “HOUR Magazine” and the “Globe and Mail.” Cale holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Windsor and advanced writing certificates from the Canadian Film Centre and the National Theatre School of Canada.