As I recently shared in POPSUGAR’s Healthy Living blog, If You’re on the Pill and You Regularly Take Melatonin, Read This Important Warning, (and restated in SleepReview Mag) melatonin use for those taking birth control pills can impact the natural cycles of your body, including hormonal and circadian rhythms.
Ingesting external melatonin could impact ovulation, fertility, and menstrual cycles as the supplement works to adjust your internal cycles for sleep preparation. There are ways to evaluate melatonin and birth control dosages, with the support of your doctor, to better understand how melatonin may impact you when taking your specific type of birth control pill.
Melatonin: How Does it Work?
Melatonin, a naturally produced hormone, helps your body know when to fall asleep. Although it is released naturally, you can take supplements to support your body’s ability to rest. Melatonin supplements, typically taken orally over short periods of time, are often used to help recover from jet lag or to improve sleep after periods of disruption.
Melatonin is secreted from the pineal gland, located in an area of the brain called the epithalamus. Once secreted by the pineal gland, melatonin is metabolized in the liver. Metabolizing melatonin supplements may limit the liver’s ability to break down birth control pills (and other medications) effectively, reducing their ability to perform efficiently.
The pineal gland is also known to play a role in the regulation of female hormone levels. This connection, between melatonin secretion and female hormone regulation, gives me pause when considering melatonin and birth control pill intake.
For those who produce lower levels of melatonin naturally, supplements are thought to help the body get on a regular sleep cycle that can then be maintained naturally. Although research on how melatonin interacts with birth control pills is limited, the supplement itself does appear to help bring sleep to individuals in some cases.
Melatonin & Birth Control: Know Your Options
Many birth control pills increase the amount of melatonin naturally produced in your body. That means that taking oral melatonin supplements can cause your levels of melatonin to become too high. The effectiveness of your birth control pills may be altered by this increase in melatonin levels as your liver works to metabolize both.
If you are experiencing changes to your sleep patterns, speak with your doctor about your pineal gland’s secretion levels of melatonin in addition to discussing possible sleep aid options before trying any on your own. Be sure your doctor considers whether there are any additional precautions needed to support your birth control pills’ effectiveness if melatonin becomes a part of your care plan.
Remember, every person’s melatonin secretion levels are different. It’s important to check with your doctor about your own melatonin levels in conjunction with your specific birth control pill. Together you can determine the best response to any sleep pattern issues you may have, including non-hormonal birth control options like the copper IUD.
Meet Dr. Savita Ginde
Dr. Savita Ginde is an advocate and thought leader for reproductive health and served as Chief Medical Officer of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains for over 13 years. And, until very recently, she served as the Chief Healthcare Officer for STRIDE Community Health Center where she oversaw all of STRIDE’s healthcare services and led their COVID-19 vaccination efforts.