How Grapefruit May Get You Pregnant

Close up of red grapefruit and pills isolated - vitamin concept

We’re happy to re-run a post from Dave from theohface.com, a blog that discusses sex, gender and sexuality issues from a sex positive perspective. (Check out his post last month on the female condom.) 

I was talking to a couple of doctors the other day and somehow we got onto the topic of grapefruit. They told me that grapefruit and grapefruit juice can interact with your body in a way that causes lots of medications to increase in potency, i.e., they become stronger versions of themselves. Good to know, I thought. But then, one of the women we were with mentioned that grapefruit had the opposite effect on some kinds of birth control – i.e., it made them less effective. Well damn, I thought, I gotta look into this! (Clearly, if it doesn’t pertain to sex, I’m not as interested.)

So, I looked into it a bit and here’s what I found: first off, you may or may not know of the different types of hormonal birth control. There are two common types of birth control, ones that release a combination of the hormones estrogen and progestin and ones that only release progestin. (For more information, just click on the link.)

Now, grapefruit gets in the way of the bodies ability to absorb estrogen. If your body isn’t absorbing the estrogen from your birth control pill properly, then the birth control pill isn’t going to work right and you may get pregnant – even if you’re taking your pills properly. Women who are using the progestin-only forms of birth control don’t need to worry about grapefruit though, because there’s no estrogen to worry about in the first place.

If you’re thinking to yourself, what if I have grapefruit in the morning and then take my pill at night? You’re probably out of luck as the effects of the juice last in your system for longer than a day. On the plus side, most oranges don’t have this kind of effect on your body so you can still have your orange juice if you’d like. (This is actually a fairly common side-effect for many pills, believe it or not. Lesson? Be careful with grapefruit juice and medication!)

If you really, really love grapefruit then I suggest you talk to your doctor and ask them what the wisest course of action is. They may reccomend a progestin-only contraceptive or an non-hormonal IUD instead, but until you do that, it might be best to lay off the grapefruit for a bit.

On a side note, apparently grapefruit and Viagra don’t mix either, so you’re not alone.

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5 thoughts on “How Grapefruit May Get You Pregnant

  1. Pingback: How Grapefruit May Get You Pregnant | The "Oh!" Face

  2. Chuck

    Grapefruit juice inhibits an enzyme called CYP3A4 in the intestines resulting in increased absorption of the ethinyl estradiol component. This would increase versus decrease the effect of the birth control.

    Reply
    1. Eleanor

      Hi Chuck, do you happen to a link to a study where this is discussed? We want to make sure that we give accurate information! -e

      Reply
    2. Katai

      At first glance of this article, my initial theories were that grapefruit juice either somehow inhibits the absorption of the medication (rendering it useless), or accelerates its absorption (making it not last as long as its supposed to).

      WIth the later, if your state is correct, it would increase the effect of the birth control, but the effect would not last as long. Either way, it’s a huge problem when you’re talking about a daily pill that doesn’t last the full day.

      Reply
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