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Watch Out! Medications That Interfere with Certain Birth Control

By HERWriter
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There is some confusion out there when it comes to mixing estrogen-containing birth control with certain medications. Many women want to know if they decrease the effectiveness of the birth control and increase their chance of getting pregnant.

The fact is there are very few medications that have been proven to do that. However, certain medications, antibiotics, and supplements can cause the birth control pill, ring and patch to fail. These may stimulate the liver's ability to metabolize contraceptive chemicals, and may indeed lower the pill's effectiveness.

In Women’s Health Magazine, Kent Holtorf, M.D., and medical director of Holtorf Medical Group, listed some but not all the drugs that may interfere with birth control. Here’s a “watch list.”

When it comes to antibiotics, watch for rifampin. It is used to treat tuberculosis and bacterial infections. Tetracycline is often used to treat acne. Also watch for ampicillin and amoxicillin, which treat bacterial infections such as urinary tract infections. Common antibiotics do not cause a problem, but for those who want extra reassurance, consider using another form of birth control, like a condom, while on the antibiotics.

Watch for these anti-seizure and migraine medications. Phenobarbital treats seizures and sometimes insomnia. Carbamazepine is used for epilepsy, bipolar disorder, and sometimes ADHD and schizophrenia. And topamax, which treats migraines and epilepsy

Keep an eye out for anti-fungal medications like griseofulvin, used for skin infections and nystatin which treats yeast infections.

Anti-anxiety medications like benzodiazepine and antidepressants such as Prozac, Celexa and Zoloft may interfere with estrogen-containing birth control.

HIV medications can affect the body’s hormone levels, which can alter the effectiveness of the pill.

Respiratory medications such as theophylline, used to treat respiratory diseases like COPD or asthma and diabetic medications like Avandia can affect certain birth control.

Certain herbal supplements and foods can also interfere with the pill. These include grapefruit juice, St. John’s wort and some soy products.

Add a Comment2 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I'm sure our family doctor was trying to be compassionate when my 18-year-old daughter complained about migraines -- he prescribed Topomax and it seemed to help. One problem: he didn't ask if she was sexually active. It took four years before she and I figured it out on our own by reading the fine print on the pamphlet that came with the prescription. That was four years of blindly relying on birth control pills. She's doing something different now. Thanks for the article!

May 3, 2011 - 2:34pm
EmpowHER Guest

If a woman taking the anti-seizure medication Topamax happens to become pregnant, great caution should be taken – the medication as been linked to the birth defects of a cleft lip or cleft palate – http://www.Topamaxbirthdefecthelp.com/ . It is important to be aware of each risk involved with our medications, so thank you for this article that breaks down the facts for us. Regards, SK

May 3, 2011 - 11:55am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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