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Can Melatonin Affect Birth Control?

If you’re currently taking birth control, you may wonder if adding a supplement like melatonin to your daily routine could impact the efficacy of your birth control or produce unwanted side effects. 

Melatonin is a hormone produced naturally in the body to help facilitate sleep, and some people take it in supplement form if they are having trouble sleeping. It makes sense, then, to wonder if adding more of this hormone into the mix might affect your hormonal birth control. 

The answer isn’t fully clear since new research on the subject is lacking. However, in this article, we’ll go over the facts as they currently stand. We’ll cover how melatonin and birth control seem to be related and interact, whether or not melatonin has any impact on other forms of contraception, and some additional sleep tips for those on birth control. 

What Is Melatonin?

As we mentioned, melatonin is a hormone that helps promote sleep. It is made in what is called the “pineal gland,” a tiny, pea-sized gland in the brain1. The role of the pineal gland is to detect whether it is dark or light outside. If it is dark, the pineal gland will start producing melatonin, which makes us feel sleepy.1

We are also continuing to understand all of the various ways this hormone impacts our bodies and health. For example, in addition to regulating our body’s circadian rhythm, melatonin seems to play a role2 in mood, brain development, aging, weight control, immune system regulation, blood pressure, and much more. 

Melatonin works with the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, and some people turn to melatonin supplements to help support this process. 

You can buy melatonin supplements over the counter in the United States, typically in the form of capsules, tablets, liquids, gummies, or patches. Melatonin supplements have typically been marketed and used3 to treat insomnia, jet lag, or occasional sleeplessness. They work by increasing the amount of melatonin in the body, which can help regulate the body’s biological clock to promote sleepiness.3 


What Is Oral Birth Control?

Oral birth control — or birth control pills — are oral medications4 that contain hormones to prevent pregnancy in women.

There are two main types5 of oral birth control pills: combination pills, which contain both estrogen and progestin, and progestin-only pills. The most commonly prescribed type of pill is a combination pill, but whichever type you choose, you’ll take it at the same time each day to prevent pregnancy. 

Both types of pills work by stopping ovulation. When ovulation is stopped, no egg is produced. If there is no egg, sperm cannot fertilize it and pregnancy cannot occur. The hormones in the pill also thicken cervical mucus, which helps to block sperm, so that even if there was an egg, it would make it more difficult for the sperm to reach it. When used correctly, the pill is 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.5 


Can I Take Melatonin When I’m Taking Birth Control Pills?

At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that taking melatonin will make your oral birth control pill any less effective. However, there is some evidence to suggest oral birth control may increase your body’s natural production of melatonin6. That said, we are still learning a lot about how melatonin impacts sex hormones and fertility, and how sex hormones and fertility impact melatonin. 

For example, back in the 1990s, there was some research into whether melatonin itself could act as a sort of birth control7. However, a 2019 pilot study showed just the opposite: melatonin seemed to slightly increase fertility rates in women8. Also, the study did not state that the subjects were actively taking birth control.

Currently, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest melatonin supplements will negatively impact your birth control’s effectiveness. That said, if you have concerns as to whether or not melatonin supplements will impact your birth control, we advise speaking with your healthcare provider. In general, it’s a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional before beginning a new supplement, especially if you take other medications.

Does Melatonin Affect Other Types of Contraceptives?

Oral birth control is a form of contraception that utilizes hormones to prevent pregnancy. However, there are plenty of non-hormonal options9 as well. Currently, there is no research indicating that melatonin could directly impact the effectiveness of these contraceptives.

  • Condoms – Condoms provide a physical barrier and are 87 percent effective.9 
  • Spermicides – Spermicides are usually creams, gels, or suppositories that are inhospitable to sperm. They are between 70 and 80 percent effective.9 
  • Caps or diaphragms – These are physical barriers inserted into the vagina. When used correctly with spermicide, these are 92 to 96 percent effective10
  • Copper Intrauterine Device (IUD) – Copper IUDs do not contain any hormones and instead prevent pregnancy with copper, which naturally repels sperm. These are 99 percent effective.9 
  • Natural family planning – This might mean the “withdrawal” method (80 percent effective) or fertility tracking, which carefully tracks a female’s cycle, avoiding any unprotected sex during the fertile period of the month. This is between 79 and 96 percent effective.9
  • Sterilization – In a female, this means “tubal ligation,” or “getting your tubes tied,” whereas in a male, this means a vasectomy. Both of these are considered to be permanent surgical procedures and are 99 percent effective.9 

Tips for Better Sleep While On Birth Control

One unfortunate side effect of hormonal birth control seems to be its effect on sleep. In 2020, a group of researchers surveyed 235 women11 using various forms of birth control. About half of the group used hormonal birth control – and a majority of these women reported poorer sleep quality. 

Luckily, there are some things you can do to improve your sleep while taking birth control. 

  • Establish a regular sleep-wake schedule – Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day (including weekends) helps get our circadian rhythm back on track. 
  • Improve your sleep environment – To get the best sleep possible, your bedroom should be cool, completely dark, and quiet. Additionally, your mattress should be comfortable and supportive. 
  • Regular bedtime routine – Doing something relaxing like reading a book, taking a bath, or meditating before bed can help you wind down from the day and also signal to your body that it is time to sleep.
  • Switch to non-hormonal contraceptives – As mentioned, hormonal birth control can negatively impact sleep.11 Non-hormonal contraceptives, like condoms or diaphragms, are also an option, and these won’t impact sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed – Both caffeine12 and alcohol13 can negatively impact your sleep. In the case of caffeine, it can stay in your system for as long as six hours, so you should only stick to consuming it in the morning or early afternoon.12
  • Get plenty of exercise – Regular exercise has been shown14 to help you fall asleep more quickly and improve overall sleep quality. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can melatonin interfere with birth control?

There is currently no evidence that melatonin will interfere with birth control. That said, there is limited research on the subject. According to the research we do have, it seems more likely that your birth control may increase the amount of natural melatonin in your system.6 

Can I take melatonin and birth control pills at the same time?

Since hormonal birth control pills may raise the body’s levels of melatonin, you might want to avoid taking your pill and melatonin supplement at the same time to avoid potentially putting too much melatonin into your system.6 That said, we also recommend talking with your healthcare provider if you’re still interested in taking melatonin while on birth control.

What medications interfere with birth control?

According to Planned Parenthood, the following medications can make oral birth control less effective5

  • The antibiotic Rifampin (other antibiotics don’t make the pill less effective)
  • The antifungal Griseofulvin (other antifungals don’t make the pill less effective)
  • Certain anti-seizure medicines
  • St. John’s Wort (an herb)
  • Certain HIV medications
Natalie G.

Natalie G.

Writer

About Author

Natalie is a content writer for Sleep Advisor with a deep passion for all things health and a fascination with the mysterious activity that is sleep. Outside of writing about sleep, she is a bestselling author, improviser, and creative writing teacher based out of Austin.

Combination Sleeper

References:

  1. Arendt PhD, Josephine., Aulinas MD PhD, Anna. “Physiology of the Pineal Gland and Melatonin”. Endotex. Last modified October 30, 2022. 
  2. Tordjman, Sylvie., et al. “Melatonin: Pharmacology, Functions and Therapeutic Benefits”. Current Neuropharmacology. 2017. 
  3. Savage, Rosemary A., et al. “Melatonin”. StatPearls. Last modified August 8, 2022.  
  4. “Oral Contraceptives and Cancer Risk”. NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE. Last modified February 22, 2018. 
  5. “Birth Control Pill”. Planned Parenthood. Webpage accessed January 2, 2024. 
  6. Webley, G.E., Leidenberger, F. “The circadian pattern of melatonin and its positive relationship with progesterone in women”. National Library of Medicine. 1986. 
  7. Silman, R.E. “Melatonin: a contraceptive for the nineties”. National Library of Medicine. 1993. 
  8. Espino, Javier., et al. “Impact of Melatonin Supplementation in Women with Unexplained Infertility Undergoing Fertility Treatment”. Antioxidants. 2019. 
  9. Howard, Sarah Anne., Benhabbour, Soumya Rahima. “Non-Hormonal Contraception”. Journal of Clinical Medicine. 2023. 
  10. “Contraceptive diaphragm or cap”. National Health Service. Last modified December 7, 2020. 
  11. Hachul, Helena., et al “Sleep quality in women who use different contraceptive methods”. Sleep Science. 2020. 
  12. Drake PhD, Christopher., et al. “Caffeine Effects on Sleep Taken 0, 3, or 6 Hours before Going to Bed”. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 2013.
  13. He, Sean., Hasler PhD, Brant P., Chakravorty MD, Subhajit. “Alcohol and Sleep-Related Problems”. National Library of Medicine. 2019.
  14. “Exercising for Better Sleep”. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Webpage accessed January 1, 2024.