ZocdocAnswersDo certain medications make birth control pills less effective?

Question

Do certain medications make birth control pills less effective?

I am a 38 year old woman and I have been taking a low dose birth control pill for about a year. I like taking this type of birth control because the hormones aren't as strong as the regular ones. I am a little concerned because I have heard that there are some medications that can reduce their effectiveness so you should avoid them. I am not currently taking any other medications, but I am wondering what I should be on the lookout for. Which medications should I avoid when I am using birth control pills?

Answer

Yes, other medications are notorious for affecting the effectiveness of birth control pills. Oral contraceptives, especially the low dose type, are present in various forms in your body. As these forms interact heavily with the other molecules in your blood and body, additions to the normal milieu can be very significant at reducing the effective concentration of birth control hormones present. Some of the most common offenders are antibiotics, which are often taken by normally healthy people who then forget to read the label or follow their prescriber's recommendations. While antibiotics are common, however, almost any medication or medication type can have some effect, and so many providers will recommend using an alternative or backup form of contraception as well. Whenever you are prescribed a new medication, it is appropriate to have this discussion with your prescribing provider, who will be able to go over the specific medication with you. Your pharmacist is also an excellent source of information, and will be able to answer this question very easily. As we all have increased exposure to more and more medications, it is important to realize that every medication interacts not just with our body, but with the other medications we might be taking.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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