I heard that taking antibiotics makes the pill less effective. How worried should I be if I am relying on the pill but am taking antibiotics too?
Luckily for you, this is mostly myth! There is only one specific antibiotic that is known to affect the pill (or any type of hormonal contraception) in any way. That antibiotic is called rifampin (brand names Rifadin and Rimactane). It is used to treat tuberculosis, and it will decrease the effectiveness of the oral contraceptive pill. But, the good news is that no other antibiotic affects the effectiveness of the birth control pill!
However, there are other types of drugs that can make the pill less effective. These include some anti-seizure medications, certain anti-HIV protease inhibitors, and a particular anti-fungal medication, griseofulvin, also known by Fulvicin, Gris-PEG, Grifulvin V, Grisactin and Gristatin, which is used to treat severe, often life-threatening fungal infections.
There are also some medications that can be less effective when you are also taking the pill. These include analgesics such as acetaminophen, which can be found in drugs such as Pamprin, Tylenol, Parcetamol, aspirin-free Excedrin and others, and antihypertensives like cyclopenthiazide that can be found in Prothiazide. These medications are known to be less effective when taken with hormonal birth control.
And finally, there are certain medications that can have exaggerated effects when taken with the pill. Some antidepressants, bronchodilators, and tranquilizers have been known to have a more potent effect when taken concurrently with the birth control pill.
Ultimately, if you have concerns or feel unsure, your best bet is to talk to your provider or another healthcare professional such as the providers at Health Services. If you’re concerned, you can always use a backup method such as a barrier method, which you can get for free from Health Services or your friendly neighborhood S.H.E. Barrier methods are also the ONLY protection from STIs, so it’s never a bad idea to have that extra layer of protection!
Have fun and be safe!
xoxo, the S.H.E.s
P.S. It is important to get your information from trustworthy sources! We got this information from Planned Parenthood and the Mayo Clinic. For more from our favorite sources, check us out on Facebook as the Wellesley College Sexual Health Educators!