How Activated Charcoal May Sabotage Your Birth Control

From rainbow grilled cheeses to matcha and alcohol infused lattes, food has taken on new avatars time and time again, that would most certainly bring your Instagram profile tonnes of likes. But while we’ve all enjoyed some very bright and fun food fads over the last few years, food suddenly seems to have taken a very dark turn.

Noticed a sudden rise in the number of people eating a gray-black hued ice cream lately? That’s the charcoal trend, you’ve just witnessed first-hand, and it’s engulfed practically everything, from lattes and pizza crusts to face masks and teeth-whitening products. The current darling of social media fanatics. Of doctors and health specialists? Not always.


What Is The Activated Charcoal?

"Activation” makes ordinary charcoal extremely absorbent making it soak up anything that comes in contact with it.

Charcoal is nothing but burnt organic matter. It’s usually procured from peat, wood, or coconut shells. When exposed to certain gases at very high temperatures through a special process, charcoal becomes activated charcoal. This process of “activation” makes the charcoal extremely porous and absorbent and helps to bind or absorb anything that comes in contact with it.


For this reason, people are using activated charcoal to clear up their complexions, whiten their teeth, and detox their bodies. Companies claim that the activated charcoal will bind to pollutants, dirt, and oils to help you lead a cleaner life.

How Does Activated Charcoal Interfere With Birth Control?

The absorption properties of activated charcoal causes it to mop up all the active ingredients of birth control pills before your body can


The whole point of activated charcoal in the medical world is to help stop the absorption of certain medications or drugs so as to keep toxicity at bay and counteract an overdose. However, since it isn’t too good at differentiating between the good stuff and the bad toxins, activated charcoal will go about absorbing pretty much anything and everything in your gut, both good and bad. And since it is so efficient at doing its job, it can mop up all those active ingredients of your birth control pills before your body gets the chance to.

Naturally, this is bound to make your pill less effective at preventing you from getting pregnant.


Medical experts insist that the absorbency rate of activated charcoal works to our advantage only in the case of medical overdoses. Taking it as a food staple or a regular supplement is not recommended, especially if you’re already on some kind of medication, or are taking pills like birth control.

Smaller Doses, However, Are Harmless

Consult your doctor about the right dosage amount for yourself if you don’t want to give up consuming activated charcoal.


There’s usually a very small amount of activated charcoal in foods and this is harmless. Eating one ice cream that contains activated charcoal isn’t very likely to interfere with your birth control. Eating ten of those, however, is going to pose a bigger problem.

It is difficult to fix a good dosage amount of activated charcoal that’s harmless across all human bodies for it may vary from person to person depending on their body type and other factors like their diet and lifestyle. So it is best to consult your doctor about the right dosage amount for yourself if you really don’t want to give up on activated charcoal.


If at all you are consuming large amounts of activated charcoal like you may find in products like ‘detox’ diets and supplements, it is recommended that you take your pill at least two hours later. This may help reduce much of the efficacy of absorption by the activated charcoal, but even then, you can never be too sure. So once again, it’s best you consult your doctor before trying any of these products.

Note: This warning is only applicable to birth control pills that you consume. Activated charcoal in your stomach does not hamper the effectiveness of other means of contraception like the implant, the intrauterine device, the shot, or the patch.