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How Detox Tea Affects Your Birth Control Pill

September 14, 2022

Could your Slimming or Detox tea be cancelling out your birth control pill?

Let’s explore this question – but first, thanks to one of my readers who sent in this question.

Cute black skinned lady in white workout gear and holding a yellow measuring tape around her weight - how well is her detox tea working?

Birth Control Pills and How They Work

Oral birth control pills either contain Oestrogen and Progesterone hormones; or Progesterone alone.

They usually work by delaying ovulation and can also affect the cervical mucus, making it thicker and harder for sperm to travel through to meet an egg.

 Finally, they can also affect the lining of the womb and reduce the likelihood of the fertilised egg planting in the womb.

 These are the three ways that most birth control pills work.

Clear glass kettle of Detox Tea on a table surrounded by green leaves and red fruits

Why Your Detox Tea May Not Work

 But how well your pills work can be affected by many things:

  •  Whether you take the pills correctly – for example, if you take the pill ad hoc, i.e. just when you remember, then it’s not going to work well.
  • Or if you take additional medicines – these can affect how the pill works. While this can happen in a few ways, let’s look at TWO in this post.

How Your Body Processes Drugs

  • Activity in your body can affect how any medicine works.
    • After taking some drugs, they can instigate or prompt your body to produce enzymes which can affect the hormones in the pill and clear them out of your system before they can work.
    • These enzymes make the pill less effective.

 Very common examples of these types of drugs are:

  • drugs used to treat epilepsy
  • some antibiotics and antifungal drugs
  • some herbal supplements like St Johns Wort which some people use for treating some types of depression
  • or some (not all) HIV treatments

Many Laxatives are NOT generally known to interact with the oral birth control pill, but please be careful.

We do not know how the different components of many supplements may affect the hormones Progesterone and Oestrogen. However, if they can interfere with the metabolism of these hormones and clear them away quickly, birth control will be less effective.

Black skinned lady sitting on her bed, looking at her laptop while sipping a cup of detox tea

Drug Effects

  • How well your pill works can also relate to the activity or effect of the other drug you are using.

Let’s consider some detox teas – for example, those that contain Senna. Commonly these find use in ‘detox‘ and as a weight loss aid.

Several drugs like this are on the market – supplements containing a mixture of a laxative known as Senna and some other supplements classed as probiotics. 

How Senna Works

Senna is a “stimulant” laxative. After metabolism in the body, it irritates the bowel lining – stimulates the movements of your bowels. We call this peristalsis (muscle activity in the bowels: contraction and relaxation). 

This increases movement in the large bowels, so you poo!

Not only could you poo more often, but the stool can also be loose, i.e. diarrhoea.

And what happens with diarrhoea? Anything in your stomach, food/drugs etc., can quickly pass into the rest of your bowels to be discarded as poo before your body absorbs it into the blood – imagine this happening to your birth control pill. 

So this is the second way a drug could affect the birth control pill from its action. By doing its job, i.e. making your stools soft and loose, it encourages the pill to rapidly pass through your system before it can even work! 

However, Senna has been shown in some studies to reduce the amount of Oestrogen available in your body if you take drugs containing both.

Takeaway with Your Detox Tea?

So yes, some laxatives, such as those that contain Senna, can affect your birth control pill – especially those that contain Oestrogen.

If you have diarrhoea within 4 hours of taking the pill, it is quickly pushed out of your body. Thus you may not get the effective dose to protect you.

You may also experience this effect if you take the pill and vomit for 1-2 hours afterwards.

This is why if you have a sickness bug (gastroenteritis) going on for more than two days, we advise you to use a condom because any pills taken will not work (if you were well enough to have sex then). 

In addition to that problem, could the laxative affect the hormones even if it doesn’t cause frequent and loose stools?

You know, the way we think Senna could interact with Oestrogen? Senna has been shown to reduce the amount of Oestrogen available in your body if you take Senna and Oestrogen.

If you want to continue with the laxative (detox tea), you may benefit from an alternative method like the coil, implant or injection. Since they will not undergo the same type of metabolism as the pill, they will be unaffected by the laxative.

More Reading


Editing By AskAwayHealth Team

All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising  Medical Practitioners on various healthcare conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality healthcare. The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified healthcare practitioner.
To discuss your condition, please contact a health practitioner here.

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