Q: Can green tea extract have a negative affect my birth control pills?
A: A simple green tea extract would not cause birth control pills to stop working. However, certain tea products, such as Bootea "Teatox" can hinder the effects of birth control because they have a laxative effect. These products are usually used for dieting, but just cause a person to have diarrhea so that they lose water-weight. If someone is taking such products for a few days or more, it can lessen the absorption of other substances in their body, such as birth control and most other types of medication. These types of "diet" teas are not recommended by doctors, as they simply cause people to lose water weight, causing dehydration, and tend to hinder the absorption of medications and vitamins.
Other things that can cause birth control to stop working are...
If taking these other types of medications, birth control should still be taken regularly, but you should also use a secondary form of contraception (condoms) while taking this other medication. The same thing goes when using more long-acting birth control devices, such as an IUD or birth control implant.
Q: Does UC Merced provide various birth control options aside from condoms?
A: The UC Merced Health Center provides medical services and prescriptions just like any doctor. A woman can make an appointment there to receive birth control or more long-acting contraceptives, such as an IUD or birth-control implant (however, they may be referred to another facility to receive implants or IUDs). These types of birth control can also be attained at Merced's Planned Parenthood. In both cases, birth control can be attained for free and (at least at Planned Parenthood) even without insurance.
Q: If my partner is on birth control, is there really a need for a condom as well? Is there much difference in the chance of getting pregnant when the two methods are combined versus only using birth control?
A: Condoms are a great method of preventing birth. If they are used correctly, they can be 98% effective (meaning if 100 couples had sex regularly for a year and they used condoms, only 2 of the 100 would get pregnant by the end of the year. Birth control (oral pills, implants, IUDs, etc.) work even better. If they're used correctly, they are 99.3 - 99.5% effective (only 1 in 200 couples would get pregnant using it in a year).
If your only goal is to prevent pregnancy, there really is no reason you would need more protection than birth control alone. However, condoms are the only form of contraception that can prevent sexually transmitted infections (e.g., herpes, gonorrhea, HIV). If you're absolutely certain that you and your partner do not have STIs, then it's relatively safe to not wear condoms during sex. The other thing to consider, though, is that oral birth control is only effective if a person remembers to take it every single day. Even missing the pill for just two days can greatly reduce its effectiveness in preventing pregnancy. So, in this case, condoms can be a great backup plan.
If your partner is on an oral (pill) form of birth control, she may benefit from getting a more long-lasting form of birth control, such as an implant or IUD. You can find more information on these here. These forms of birth control don't need to be administered every day, so there's no chance of forgetting to take it and becoming unprotected. Studies show these "long acting, reversible contraceptives" (LARCs) tend to be much more effective in reducing pregnancy, even when compared to traditional birth control. In other words, if you're using a LARC and neither of you have an STI, then there really isn't a need to use condoms.
Q: Does starting birth control cause you to gain any weight?
A: Since birth control regulates a woman's hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, it can have some side-effects. However, recent studies have found that weight gain resulting from birth control is quite rare and most often results in only gaining 1 - 2 pounds of water weight.
Any negative symptoms from birth control are most often temporary (lasting 2 - 3 months) and dissipate once the body gets used to these new hormone levels. Some other side-effects of taking birth control can be issues with nausea, headaches, breast tenderness and mood changes. If a woman experiences these negative symptoms for more than 3 months while taking birth control, she should switch to a different brand or type of birth control. This most often fixes the problem.
Beyond these short-term symptoms, birth control is extremely safe and doesn't cause any problems with fertility. It's also been shown to decrease acne, menstrual cramping and PMS, and reduce a woman's chance of getting cervical and uterine cancers down the road. The only woman who may want to avoid taking birth control are women who are older than 35 and smoke regularly.
Q: Will birth control (the daily pill) hurt my chances of getting pregnant in the future when I decide to have children?
A: Thankfully, studies show that being on oral contraceptives or any type of hormone-based birth control does not hinder a woman's chances of becoming pregnant later on in life. Birth control simply keeps a woman's estrogen and progesterone levels in a balanced state, so that they cannot fluctuate. This stops a woman from ovulating and building up an endometrium (the lining of the uterus that allows a fertilized egg to implant), because these processes are started by spikes in estrogen and progesterone.
Birth control has actually been shown to have many health benefits for women, such as lessened menstrual cramping, PMS symptoms, acne, and a decreased chance of uterine cancers later in life. The only known health risk of taking birth control is blood clotting, which is only a risk-factor for women who are age 35 or older and who smoke regularly. So, if you're not an older woman who smokes, there's nothing to worry about when taking birth control.
Answers provided by Dr. Ross Avilla
Dr. Ross Avilla has been teaching Human Sexuality since 2013 and has a PhD in psychology from UC Davis. Dr. Avilla is not a clinician and all information and advice offered on this website is for educational purposes only.