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Can you smoke on birth control?

Smokers can use most types of contraception but age plays an important role in determining which are likely to be suitable for you. If you’re a smoker and over 35 years old, some contraceptives (such as the combined pill, patch or the vaginal ring) might not be suitable for you. This is because smokers over age 35 will have an increased risk of stroke and heart attack if they use the combined pill compared to non-smokers of the same age. If you’re over 35 and smoke, you can consider the following types of contraceptive:

  • intrauterine device (IUD)
  • intrauterine system (IUS)
  • contraceptive implant
  • contraceptive injection
  • progestogen-only pill

Therefore, smoking is one of the factors to consider when deciding which birth control method is most appropriate for your health and circumstances. For this reason, when discussing what method to use, it’s really important to let your doctor know that you are a smoker so that they can recommend the safest types of methods of birth control which are most suitable for you.

While you can use contraception as a smoker, it is important to remember that the best thing to do is stop smoking. Smoking remains one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK, around 78,000 people in the UK die from smoking related diseases each year, with many more living with debilitating smoking-related illnesses. Smoking also risks the health of others through exposing them to second-hand smoke. Stopping smoking is challenging, but evidence shows that quitting is possible, especially when services are used to support you. Find out what’s available here, or seek support from your GP.

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Dr Gillian Holdsworth headshot

This post was clinically reviewed by:
Dr Gillian Holdsworth Fettle's Managing Director, Medical Doctor and public health expert.

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