Womens Health

Medications and Drug Interaction with Birth Control Pills

A Drug Cocktail

We don't really think of birth control pills as drugs, but the fact is - they are. And, as such, they have warnings, risks, and all of the other concerns prescription drugs carry. When you are prescribed a hormonal birth control pill, it is important that you spend the time it takes to find out if there are any contraindications between any medications you may currently be taking and the birth control pills.

Check in with the doctor or pharmacist with the following questions to be sure you aren't going to compromise the effectiveness of the birth control pills or make yourself sick by mixing drugs or foods that don't combine well.

Ask Plenty of Questions

Questions for the doctor or pharmacist:

· Can I take the pill at the same time I take my other medications?

· Does the BC pill interact with foods or drinks?

· Are there contraindications (negative interactions) with prescription, non-prescription, herbal or nutritional supplements?

· Should I take this at the same time every day?

· What happens if I miss a dose?

· What are the potential side effects of this pill?

· If I experience a side effect, what should I do?


Medications May Affect Birth Contol Efficacy...

The interaction between birth control pills and other medications is dependent upon the nature of the medication you are taking. Some antibiotics affect the efficacy of birth control pills by causing the enzymes in your liver to break the estrogen in the birth control pill down very quickly so the pill is less effective. If you are taking certain drugs that do not interact well with birth control pills, your doctor will probably recommend that you use an additional form of birth control while you are on the medication.

... Antibiotics

Some antibiotics, used to treat infections, may decrease the effectiveness of the pill. The following antibiotics and antibacterial medications may interfere with your use of the pill:

· Rifampin - used to treat tuberculosis and meningitis

· Rifabutin - used to treat mycobacterium avium complex

· Tetracycline - used to treat certain kinds of bacterial infections

· Rifapentine - used to treat tuberculosis

· Cephalosporin - used to prevent infection during surgery (this drug has been discontinued in the US

As it turns out, it is not possible to determine if an antibiotic will interfere with pill use because each person's body responds differently. It is, therefore, a good idea to use backup protection while on the antibiotic as a precaution. Check in with your doctor for further information.

... Other Medications - From Barbiturates to Anti-Vomiting Drugs

Other drugs that may inhibit the effectiveness of birth control pills include:

· Anti-HIV protease inhibitors, like Ritonavir, the antiviral drug used to treat HIV infections

· Barbiturate medications that are used to induce sleep or treat convulsions or seizures such as Phenobarbital or Primidone

· Drugs used to treat epilepsy and treat nerve-related pain and migraine headaches. These drugs may lower the effectiveness of the pill: Oxcarbazepine; Carbamazepine; Phenytoin; Topiramate

· Certain medications like Nefazodone, prescribed for mental depression, have the potential to alter hormone levels.

· Anti-fungal medications, especially oral tablets for yeast infections, can lower the effectiveness of birth control pills. Griseofulvin, used to treat fungus infection of the skin, hair, and nails may also interfere with hormonal birth control pills.

· Some of the medications prescribed for diabetes can interact with birth control pills. Troglitazone and Pioglitazone are two of the many that may be prescribed.

· Anti-anxiety medications can interfere with and decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills. Such medicines as Diazepam or Temazepam may be problematic.

In addition to prescription medications, there are certain supplements that have been shown to reduce the efficacy of hormonal contraceptive pills and they include:

· Soy Isolfavones, which are natural substances that come from the soybean plant, are often used to reduce the effects of menopause-related hot flashes. They are also used as a means of strengthening bones.

· St. John's Wort is a dietary supplement that is used to improve mildly depressed moods.

Vomiting and diarrhea (not medications, for sure) can also reduce the effectiveness of the pill, especially if you throw it up unknowingly. The medication Aprepitant, an anti-nausea treatment may interfere with birth control pills.

Talk with Your Doctor and Read The Insert

The most important thing you can take away from this article is that before you take any medications, check with your doctor as to the way they will interact with your birth control pills. It may be that you will need extra protection for the duration of the time you are on medication. Another tip, read the insert in the medication you receive. Often there are inserts giving you an entire breakdown of the contraindications of the drug you are about to take. Certainly it isn't easy to understand everything in medical terms, but you will be able to understand some of it and you'll be surprised how much you can learn.

Find out more about which drugs affect birth control pills and how the interaction may affect you by reading the article in this section.

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