In this article, I’ll discuss every possible effect of pre-workout on birth control.
So, your doctor has put you on birth control, but you are particularly worried about your favorite pre-workout affecting its efficacy? No need to look high and low for explanations anymore because I have summarized all your google searches in a single read.
Pre-workouts mostly contain a blend of amino acids, nootropics, vitamins, and nitrates that are generally believed to have no impact on ongoing medications including birth control pills. But the dark side of pre-workouts is their propriety blends, so you may expect some side effects.
But nothing to be intimidated about because this article will address all your worries and suspicions and present evidence from both the user experience and available scientific research to support every claim.
How do Pre-workouts Affect birth control?
Every pre-workout ingredient shows a variable response and effect on birth control. But the good thing is that the overall product is considered safe for consumption with contraceptive treatments.
So, you are allowed to pursue medications to prevent pregnancy while simultaneously gulping in pre-workouts to enhance your workout performance.
The effect of pre-workouts on women taking contraceptives is an under-researched topic.
The reason why no one is able to give you a solid answer to this question is that the FDA does not regulate pre-workouts, and neither do they have standard formulations.
Most pre-workouts will contain propriety blends, and for others, the dose of the ingredients varies within batches. These are the reasons which make it difficult for even your doctor to infer and search pre-workout drug interactions in their lengthy databases.
There is substantial research available that is designed to investigate the effect of pre-workout consumption on menstruation and fertility. But the research on the interaction of birth control pills with pre-workouts is inadequate.
A person left a query on the forum ‘Ask a doctor’ about whether pre-workouts can alter the function of birth control pills.
Dr. Shoaib Khan replied with the answer that vitamins, herbs, protein, or thermogenic are some common components in pre-workouts, and they are not known to reduce the efficacy and negatively affect the function of birth control pills.
But the thermogenic ingredients like caffeine or ephedrine (banned) might interact with birth control pills to bring undesirable effects like headaches and insomnia.
Before I get into geeky stuff, for your question, user experience seems to be the best answer due to the lack of research.
So, a user ‘Amm31’ initiated a thread on this Bodybuilding forum with the question of whether the C4 pre-workout interferes with the efficacy of birth control pills or are there other options that she should consider if that is the case.
I went over user replies, and here is what people are saying.
Many users shared their experience of consuming birth control pills like Tri-cyclen, birth control implants like Nexplanon, contraceptive injections like Depo-Provera, and other contraceptive treatments with pre-workouts.
And they assured her that it did not affect the efficacy of the birth control treatment in them.
‘Stephipoo0408’ shared her doctor’s trip in the replies and wrote that her OBGYN doctor drew inferences from checking the interactions of individual ingredients and passed the C4 workout as safe for consumption with her birth control treatment (Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo).
But her doctor was skeptical about the pre-workout affecting the absorption rate of the birth control pill.
So, she advised her to take them at different times.
Since it is generally considered safe to consume pre-workouts while on birth control, I came across research like this one in which the researchers did not control the consumption of contraceptive pills in mixed-gender cohorts.
But still, they adjusted the results via covariate analysis because inferring the ‘short-term effect’ of pre-workouts on birth control was not of interest to the study.
I have still gathered all the evidence I could find on some pre-workout elements so that you can look out for the side effects and drug interactions of taking pre-workout supplements with birth control treatments.
Caffeine is the primary stimulant in most pre-workouts, and it increases the energy, mental focus, and stamina of consumers.
Research reports that the estrogen and progestin in oral contraceptives may interfere with the hepatic drug oxidation mechanism and decrease the clearance of caffeine from the body, which may cause a higher accumulation of caffeine in oral contraceptive users.
This research looked into the effect of consuming 500 mg of caffeine on women taking oral contraceptives.
And it concluded that this combination limits the effect of caffeine to promote the excretion of caffeine metabolites and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, sodium, and potassium.
WebMD also reinforces the hypothesis that birth control pills can slow down the breakdown of caffeine in the body, which may amplify its risk of causing jitters, headache, an increased heart rate, and other such side effects.
As nitric oxide mediates the vasodilation of blood vessels, so, manufacturers add Nitric Oxide (NO) boosters such as arginine in pre-workouts to pump muscle with oxygen and nutrients.
Usually, pre-menopausal women have high plasma levels of estrogen, which is a hormone that enhances the nitric oxide synthesis and improves the ‘endothelial function’ of blood vessels, thus, exerting a protective effect against arteriosclerosis.
On the contrary, those who use oral contraceptives have decreased levels of estrogen in them which is suspected of altering the endothelial function of blood vessels and posing a greater risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.
Considering this information, you may expect that the muscle pumping function of NO boosters may be different in women who are on birth control than in women who are not.
However, I came across this study in which researchers found no difference in the endothelium-dependent vasodilation in women taking contraceptives and the control group.
And even though the study used acetylcholine instead of the typical NO boosters like arginine and citrulline in pre-workouts, its results could still be used to infer mechanisms and reactions of pre-workout NO boosters in women on birth control because acetylcholine-induced vasodilation is also mediated by nitric oxide.
However, MD has listed possible interactions of arginine with birth control medicine.
Things to avoid while on birth control
Down below, I have enlisted a few general things that you should avoid while being on birth control.
Smoking while you are on birth control might bring deadly consequences. The nicotine toxin in cigarettes adds to the stress hormonal contraceptive treatments put on your blood vessels and increases your risk of developing cardiovascular or endothelial disorders.
According to this research, long term use of hormonal contraception and smoking leads to a greater decrease in plasma nitrites/ nitrates levels (I explained the role of nitrates in endothelial function of blood vessels in the first section in detail) which may lead to increased vascular homeostasis defect and cardiovascular risk.
Remember the rule, avoid smoking when you are on certain birth control treatments that work by messing with your estrogen and progestin hormone levels like oral, injectable, or combination contraceptives to preserve your health.
Exceeding the ideal BMI
It would be best if you strived to achieve and maintain an ideal body weight because obesity reduces the success rate of birth control treatments.
This research reported that birth control treatments might be less effective if you have a higher-than-normal Body Mass Index (BMI). The study found that obesity may promote increased absorption of oral contraceptives, but it decreases the bioavailability of injected drugs.
It may also alter the distribution, metabolism, elimination, and pharmacodynamics of different contraceptives.
This article from Independentnurse.co.uk states that you should strive to maintain a BMI of less than 35 to reduce complications and prevent failure of contraceptives.
You should be careful about taking certain herbal treatments while on birth control because they may compromise the success of contraception to prevent ‘accidents.’
For instance, according to the National Institute of Health, St. John’s wort is a traditional herb used to treat mental disorders like depression, promote wound healing, or for other purposes. But it may reduce the efficacy of birth control pills.
Certain pre-workouts and dietary supplements also use St. John’s wort in their ingredients, so you should look out for them.
You should make your doctor aware of your contraceptive treatment and try to avoid antibiotics while you are on birth control because they may decrease the efficacy of oral contraceptives.
This review fetched the research available from 1975 to 1998 (20 years) on the interaction of antibiotics and oral contraceptives.
It concluded that the reliability of oral contraceptives is compromised with the use of antibiotics.
It divided antibiotics into three different categories based on the strength of the evidence supporting their anti-contraceptive potential, and Rifampin was included in category A.
Category B included antibiotics that had evidence of three or more clinical trials, and these are amoxicillin, ampicillin, griseofulvin, metronidazole, and tetracycline. Category C included antibiotics that had at least one case report that recorded failure of oral contraceptives with their consumption.
These are cephalexin, clindamycin, dapsone, erythromycin, isoniazid, phenoxymethylpenicillin, trimethoprim/sulphamethoxazole.
You will need to use condoms or other protection for birth control if you are taking an antibiotic course.
It would be best to take your different prescriptions to the doctor to get the right advice because certain medications render birth control ineffective.
CDC has reported that antiretroviral drugs may alter the pharmacokinetics of contraceptives, which reduces their bioavailability and lower their efficacy.
On the other hand, this research paper reported that anti-epileptic medications might also cause the failure of oral contraceptives.
Does spirulina affect birth control?
Yes, spirulina may interact with birth control so consult your doctor for advice before taking it.
Does collagen affect birth control pills?
No, according to doctors, collagen should not reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills.
Does magnesium affect birth control?
No, magnesium does not affect birth control. But instead, contraceptive pills may cause magnesium deficiency in the body which may increase the risk of clotting disorders, etc.
Does glutathione affect birth control pills?
Yes, glutathione does affect birth control but in a positive way. Glutathione is an antioxidant, and doctors may prescribe it with birth control to mitigate its side effects.
What are the supplements that affect birth control pills?
There is a huge list of certain supplements that you should avoid with oral contraceptives.
For instance, some are herbal supplements such as saw palmetto or mineral supplements such as iron.
Saw palmetto interferes with the protective effect of birth control pills. Whereas birth control pills may increase the iron levels in the blood, taking iron supplements on top of it may cause chronic iron overload, which is toxic and may cause gastrointestinal symptoms like upset stomach, vomiting, and belly pain.
Does protein powder affect birth control?
No, proteins are just amino acids, and they are not suspected to reduce the efficacy of your birth control.
To wrap it up, pre-workouts have a complicated relationship with contraceptives; still, they are widely considered safe for consumption during birth control.
Nonetheless, due to the lack of robust research in this area, the safety of this combination cannot be justified with scientific facts.
However, user experience mutually agrees that pre-workout consumption during contraception did not compromise its effectiveness.
Moreover, the pre-workout formulations available in the market vary greatly. And with the developments in research, certain herbs that are added to some pre-workouts have been found to be incompatible with contraceptive pills.
So, if there are still doubts floating in your head, it is best that you take your pre-workout to a pharmacist and consult them regarding the drug interactions with its different ingredients.