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Yes! You can safely take live cultures with birth control pills.
One of the most popular medications taken by women around the world is the birth control pill, also known as the oral contraceptive pill. This dose of daily hormones is used to prevent pregnancy. Some medications, including specific antibiotics, can affect how well the pill works1. Failure of the birth control pill to work effectively can lead to an unplanned pregnancy. If you are considering taking live cultures for the first time, you may be wondering if your friendly bacteria supplement can interfere with your birth control pill. Let’s explore this topic further.
Women can be reassured that live cultures are safe to take with the birth control pill and are not known to affect its function.
Live cultures are friendly bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial for our overall health. They are not a drug. Naturally, our gut is the home for trillions of microbes including bacteria and yeasts which is known as the gut microbiome. By taking a live culture supplement, we are topping up the levels of good microbes in our gut and in turn, contributing to a healthy gut microbiome. To learn more about the microbiome, read All about the microbiome on the Learning Lab.
The birth control pill has been noted to have effects on the gut microbiome and gut health2. It has been suggested that this is due to the relationship between the effects of oestrogen on the gut microbiome, the integrity of the lining of the gut and immune health. Some women experience gastrointestinal side effects when taking the birth control pill including nausea, bloating and altered bowel pattern. This could be a sign that there is an imbalance in the gut microbiome, known as dysbiosis.
The birth control pill has been known to increase risk of developing vulvovaginal thrush3. It is thought that the hormone oestrogen, including the synthetic oestrogens found in many birth control pills, can encourage the growth of Candida in the vagina, contributing to the development of thrush4. If you find that you tend to suffer from vaginal infections, it may in fact be beneficial to consider a live culture supplement which supports the health of the vaginal microbiome.
Healthcare professionals can read more about the use of live cultures for intimate health on the Professionals site.
Vitamin C and the birth control pill are initially broken down by the same enzymes before being used in the body. It was found in early studies that in high doses of 1g or more per day, vitamin C could increase circulating oestrogen levels in the body5. However, further studies did not confirm this finding6,7. Dietary sources of vitamin C and healthy amounts of vitamin C supplements for example in line with the recommended daily allowance of 80mg per day8, is safe while taking the birth control pill.
Ultimately, if you are unsure about the use of any medication or natural supplement alongside your birth control pills, then consult with your doctor.