Is It Safe To Take The Pill Together With Antibiotics
In most cases it’s not a problem usually when you have an infection or are ill your doctor will prescribe standard antibiotics and there is no real need to worry about interactions between these and your Pill. Both the progestogen-only and the combined contraceptive pill can be taken with broad-spectrum antibiotics.
Antibiotics can indirectly affect the Pill if your antibiotics cause you to vomit or to have severe diarrhoea then this can stop your Pill from working. If you have vomited or had diarrhoea within 2 hours of taking your Pill, it may not have been absorbed in time and you may need to take another contraceptive tablet, or depending on the type of contraceptive, may even need to take further protective measures. You should always read the patient information leaflet with your medication to ensure you are using your medication correctly.
Make sure to mention your other medications during your assessment if your doctor is going to prescribe you with antibiotics, let them know that youre on the Pill. Tell them which one you take or if you can, take the box with you to your appointment, so your doctor can check for any possible interactions. They should then advise you about how to prevent pregnancy, based on your current contraception method.
There are two antibiotics which are known to affect the pill directly they are:
These antibiotics are not prescribed often and are used to treat and prevent tuberculosis , meningitis and MRSA.
How Can You Tell If Youre Getting Side Effects From Either
It could be the one you started taking most recently if you think you are experiencing side effects, it is very likely they are being caused by the medication you started taking most recently. For example, if you have been taking the pill for a while but have only just started a course of antibiotics, it is likely the antibiotics are causing the effects.
It’s not always easy to tell if you began taking them around the same time it can be difficult to distinguish between the two as the side effects can be similar. The table below shows the similarities and differences between the side effects of both the pill and antibiotics:
How to confirm where the side effects are coming from if you think you may be experiencing side effects from your contraceptive pill, antibiotics or both, you should consult your doctor. The similarities between the side effects of both medications can make it difficult for you to determine the cause. Your doctor, however, will be able to distinguish between the two and provide a solution to make you feel better.
What Other Types Of Drugs Can Impact Birth Control Effectiveness
While most antibiotics will typically be safe to take along with your hormonal contraception, there are some other types of drugs that can potentially interact and reduce the effectiveness of the pill. These drugs may make your hormonal birth control less effective:
- Efavirenz, a retroviral drug used to treat HIV, may reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptives according to a summary of available studies.
- Griseofulvin, an antifungal medication used to treat infections such as athlete’s foot, may also temporarily reduce the effectiveness of hormonal contraception.
- A study in CNS Drugs Journal found that several antiepileptic drugs used to treat seizures can increase the likelihood of hormonal contraception failing.
- A 2017 study found that anti-nausea drug aprepitant reduced the effectiveness of the pill.
- A small 2004 study suggests herbal supplement St. John’s Wort can interfere with hormonal contraception effectiveness.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, so make sure you talk to your healthcare provider any time you start or end the use of birth control or any other drug. You should mention supplements you take as well. For example, St. John’s Wort is available at drugstores and many health food stores, but even though it can be purchased without a prescription it may have an unwanted interaction with oral contraceptives.
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Certain Meds Do Interfere With Birth Controlnot Most Antibiotics Though
Many women using birth control with hormonesincluding the pill, the patch, and the ringhave heard that antibiotics can make these methods less effective. Thankfully, thats not true for most antibiotics. But there are medicines that can interfere with some kinds of birth control. Lets talk details, why these meds mess with birth control, and what alternatives women taking these meds have.
Antibiotics That Can Affect Birth Control
Researchers have only proven that two types of antibiotics can affect the efficacy of your birth control:
- Rifampin: Health care providers prescribe this medication to treat tuberculosis. Rifampin causes the enzymes in your liver to break estrogens down faster than normal, lowering those hormone levels in your body and possibly reducing your birth controls efficacy. Some women might experience spotting between their periods while taking rifampin, but this doesnt mean their birth control isnt working.
- Rifabutin: Health care providers prescribe this medication to prevent an infection called mycobacterium avium complex in HIV patients, as well as to treat tuberculosis. It, too, reduces the levels of birth control hormones that suppress ovulation but to a lesser degree than rifampin.
Both of these medications belong to a class of antibiotics called rifamycins. Scientists have not been able to prove that any other rifamycins, however, affect birth control.
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Can Antibiotics Affect Your Birth Control
The whole point of birth control is to avoid pregnancy.
So you dont want to do anything that could make your contraception less effective.
Yet certain medications can change how the body metabolizes hormonal birth control, including the pill, patch, and vaginal ring.
In these instances, unless you use another contraceptive, your risk of pregnancy increases.
Many women wonder if antibiotics in particular interact with hormonal birth control.
After all, 125 million women were prescribed antibiotics in 2020 for bacterial infections like urinary tract infections , sinus infections, and skin infections, and 14% of women between ages 15 and 49 take birth control pills.
While you should always discuss your current medications with your healthcare provider, this article will help you understand if antibiotics affect your birth control.
Ill discuss what the research says about taking antibiotics with birth control, how birth control works, and other medications that may interfere with birth control.
How To Prevent Birth Control Ineffectiveness
Always talk with your doctor about birth control interactions before taking new medications, including vitamins or over-the-counter medications. Ask if the medication or supplement will interfere with your birth control effectiveness. Even if more research is needed, its generally better to err on the side of caution. You can use backup forms of birth control in addition to oral contraceptives when taking medications that interfere with the effectiveness.
If you forget to use a backup method, you can take over-the-counter emergency contraception for up to five days after intercourse. For long term medications, such as retrovirals, diabetes medications, or anticonvulsants, it is best to talk with your provider about other contraception methods, such as long-acting reversible contraception or injectable progesterone.
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Why Do These These Antibiotics Affect The Pill While Others Dont
- Rifampicin and rifabutin are whats known as enzyme-inducing antibiotics: they increase the enzyme levels in the body
- Enzymes in the body speed up some chemical reactions
- As a result, the way your body processes hormonal contraception like the Pill is also sped up
- So, you will have lower levels of oestrogen and progestogen in your blood: these are the chemicals that make your Pill work
If youre taking either of these antibiotics you should use an extra method of contraception to prevent pregnancy, like a condom. If your prescribed antibiotics arent enzyme-inducing , theres usually no need to use extra contraception.
If the infection theyre treating causes vomiting or diarrhoea, youll need to use an extra form of contraception, like a condom. If you vomit or have diarrhoea within two hours of taking your pill, then you wont be protected against pregnancy because it wont have been absorbed by your body. So you should take another pill straight away. If youre not ill after this time, youll be protected and should take your next pill at the usual time.
If youre still ill, your protection may be affected and you may need to consider additional contraception.
What Should I Do If I Need To Take 2 Or More Medicines
If youre on a short course of a supplementary medicine, then its advisable to use a temporary form of contraception that wont be affected. These include condoms, the coil or the progesterone-only injection. Your alternative contraception may need to be in effect for anything from 7 to 28 days after finishing the medicine that interacts with the pill.
For long-term treatment, it may be preferable to avoid medicines mentioned above, but its always advisable to speak to your GP when starting or stopping any course of medication.
If you arent sure whether your contraception interacts with any other medicine, speak to your doctor or pharmacist.
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What Are Antibiotics And Why Are They Prescribed
Antibiotics are used in the treatment of bacterial infections. Generally speaking, they are prescribed for infections that are severe in nature, where there is a risk of more serious complications, in patients where symptoms are unlikely to improve on their own, or where there is a risk of infecting others. Antibiotics are not used to treat viral infections for this they are ineffective.
Antibiotics can be prescribed for many common conditions persistent UTIs, acne, or genital herpes can all require their use. They can also be used as a preventative step where there is a future risk of infection. This can include certain types of surgery, such as the removal of the appendix or breast implant surgery, or a bite or wound that has a high chance of becoming infected. Less common illnesses, such as tuberculosis, will also use antibiotics in prevention and treatment.
Alert Your Physician To Any Medication Use
Most women and physicians prefer to err on the side of caution when it comes to antibiotics and birth control. Despite the fact there is little evidence supporting a massive increase in pregnancies with antibiotic use, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Always tell your physician if you are taking any medications while on the birth control pill. A pharmacist can also answer drug interaction questions. Or, you can call Planned Parenthood at 1-800-230-PLAN to find a center near you, if you do not have a healthcare provider and have questions regarding pregnancy, the pill, and antibiotics.
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Most Antibiotics Dont Make Birth Control Less Effective
Reproductive experts told USA TODAY the claim in the Facebook post is false, with one exception: rifampin.
Only rifampin-like antibiotics make your birth control less effective birth control meaning the pill, patch and ring, Dr. Melissa Simon, vice chair of research at Northwestern Universitys Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, said in an email.
Rifampin, known in the U.S. by the brand names Rifadin and Rimactane, is used in tandem with other medications to treat tuberculosis in numerous parts of the body, according to the Mayo Clinic. It may also be prescribed to asymptomatic patients with meningitis in their nose or throat to prevent spreading bacteria to others.
Dr. Neel Shah, an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School, said rifampin is an older and rarely used antibiotic. But that doesn’t mean contraceptive users shouldnt be wary of other medications and supplements.
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There are other examples of prescription medications and herbal remedies that can interact with oral contraceptives, including certain sleep medications and St. John’s wort, Shah said in an email.
I would encourage people to be open with their concerns and communicate with their doctor to make sure they are being prescribed the medications they need effectively, Shah said.
Altitude And Combined Hormonal Contraception
If you are travelling to an altitude of 4,500m or higher and are taking the combined oral contraceptive pill or using a patch or vaginal ring for contraception, you have an increased risk of developing blood clots . In this instance, you should contact your GP or usual contraceptive provider in advance of your trip so that you can discuss your risk and consider swapping to a different contraceptive method if necessary.
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Synthetic Antibiotics Derived From Dyes
Synthetic antibiotic chemotherapy as a science and development of antibacterials began in Germany with Paul Ehrlich in the late 1880s. Ehrlich noted certain dyes would colour human, animal, or bacterial cells, whereas others did not. He then proposed the idea that it might be possible to create chemicals that would act as a selective drug that would bind to and kill bacteria without harming the human host. After screening hundreds of dyes against various organisms, in 1907, he discovered a medicinally useful drug, the first synthetic antibacterial organoarsenic compoundsalvarsan, now called arsphenamine.
The first sulfonamide and the first systemically active antibacterial drug, Prontosil, was developed by a research team led by Gerhard Domagk in 1932 or 1933 at the Bayer Laboratories of the IG Farben conglomerate in Germany, for which Domagk received the 1939 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Sulfanilamide, the active drug of Prontosil, was not patentable as it had already been in use in the dye industry for some years. Prontosil had a relatively broad effect against Gram-positivecocci, but not against enterobacteria. Research was stimulated apace by its success. The discovery and development of this sulfonamide drug opened the era of antibacterials.
How Long Do Certain Antibiotics Affect Birth Control
Exactly how long an antibiotic can affect birth control depends on the amount of time youre taking it, says Dr. Ross. And since your doctor may recommend you take rifampin for several months , using a second method of protection, such as a condom, is super important. If I were on rifampin and I were taking any type of birth control, I would be using back-up contraception, and I would be very careful, says Dr. Sophocles.
To prevent unwanted pregnancy, Dr. Sophocles recommends using backup contraception the entire time youre on rifampin or rifabutin and the first few days youre off the antibiotic, while Dr. Ross suggests sticking to it for up to a month afterward. After all, missing a single pill can put you at risk of pregnancy, and it can take at least seven days after you first start taking birth control pills for them to effectively protect against pregnancy.
And while you dont normally need to use additional contraceptives if youre taking antibiotics other than those two, theres no harm in playing it safe, especially since condoms prevent STIs, too.
If you have an easy opportunity to use back-up contraception, use it, says Dr. Sophocles. Its never going to hurt to use it, and its a lot better than having an oops.
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What Should I Do If I Take A Rifamycin Antibiotic
Rifamycin antibiotics donât affect progesterone-only injections or intrauterine devices or systems . If you use one of these, you donât need to add a back-up birth control method.
If you use a pill, patch, implant, shot, or vaginal ring for birth control, you should use a back-up method, such as condoms or a diaphragm. To prevent pregnancy, youâll need to use your back-up birth control for 28 days after you finish your rifamycin antibiotic.
If you need to take a rifamycin antibiotic for more than 2 months, ask your doctor if you should switch to a different kind of birth control. Rifamycin doesnât affect copper IUDs or barrier birth control methods like condoms or cervical caps.
Antibiotics That Do Not Affect Birth Control
Most antibiotics have no proven effects on hormonal birth control and will not increase your chances of getting pregnant if you have sex during treatment. Commonly prescribed antibiotics that are safe to take while on birth control include:
- Ampicillin, for treating bladder infections, pneumonia, and more.
- Cephalexin, for treating upper respiratory, ear, skin, urinary tract, and bone infections.
- Ciprofloxacin, for treating skin, respiratory, joint, and urinary tract infections.
- Clarithromycin, for treating bacterial skin and respiratory infections.
- Clindamycin, for treating skin, lung, soft tissue, vaginal, and pelvic infections.
- Doxycycline, for treating urinary tract infections, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, respiratory infections, and more.
- Metronidazole, for treating vaginal, stomach, liver, skin, joint, and respiratory system infections.
- Minocycline, for treating urinary tract, respiratory, and skin infections, as well as chlamydia.
- Ofloxacin, for treating skin infections, urinary tract infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.
- Roxithromycin, for treating bacterial respiratory tract, urinary and soft tissue infections.
- Sulfamethoxazole, for treating urinary tract, ear, and respiratory infections, among others.
- Tetracycline, for treating skin, respiratory, urinary, and other infections, as well as syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia.
- And many more.
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Enzyme Inducers = Use A Backup Method
This being said t is still important to ask your pharmacist about whether or not your antibiotic is considered broad-spectrum, because there are some antibiotics that do significantly interact with combined hormonal contraceptives.
Antibiotics that are known to definitely affect the efficacy of combined hormonal contraceptives are called enzyme inducers because they essentially make your body chew up the hormones in the birth control faster than normal. These types of antibiotics include the following:
Rifampin, Rifabutin and griseofulvin are antibiotics known to reduce the levels of hormones in the pill, the patch or the ring. It is very important that women on these antibiotics who also use combined hormonal contraception use a backup method of birth control while they are taking these antibiotics. The CDC has classified these antibiotics as category 3 interactions with combined hormonal contraceptives because when used together, the effectiveness of the birth control is reduced and pregnancy risk is increased.