'Smart Drug' Modafinil Inhibits The Contraceptive Pill
The Debrief: Something to think about if you've ever used the 'smart drug'.
Modafinil, a ‘smart drug’ often used by students to help concentration could inhibit the effectiveness of the contraceptive pill.
According to The Sun, Hull University has even gone so far as to issue a warning to students taking the drug, saying in an email:
‘The Hull lead consultant for Sexual and Reproductive Health has been in touch. When taken from the sexual health point of view there are potentially two serious problems for women: the reduced effectiveness of steroid contraceptives and causing fetal abnormality in pregnancy.
‘The recommendation is women using hormonal contraceptives as a minimum should use condoms as well whilst on Modafinil and for two months after stopping it.’
A spokesperson for the university also said, ‘Whilst we do not condone the use of any sort of substance to aid study or revision, we believe we have a duty of care to make sure students are aware of the potential side effects to their health and wellbeing.’
Apparently it inhibits the contraceptive pill by increasing increasing the rate at which contraceptive hormone are metabolised which will then reduce the effectiveness.
According to a 2014 study by The Tab, one in five students at UK universities have taken the drug with the highest use at Oxford University with one in four taking it.
Modafinil promotes wakefulness and is often used to help treat those with disorders such as narcolepsy and shift work sleep disorder and is prescribed under the name Provigil. The drug acts to keep the user awake and more alert, helping with concentration – particularly desirable during stressful exam periods when you’re cramming. Other ‘smart drugs’ include Ritalin, Adderall and Dexedrine, all of which are used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
After reviewing Modafinil, researchers at Harvard and Oxford University called it the 'world’s first safe smart drug’, finding that it was safe to take on a short term basis with side effects showing very little overall effect, although there is limited research into the long-term effects of taking it.
They found that taking Modafinil can improve their performance when it comes to long and complex tasks, what is known as ‘executive function’ – cognitive processes which include working memory and cognitive flexibility and problem solving. They also found that it enhanced attention span, the ability to learn and remember.
They did however stress that there are ethical considerations when taking anything that can enhance cognition and encouraged future work to explore this side.
Recently, a study found that it could also help men suffering from premature ejaculation.
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