Antibiotics And Birth Control: Everything You Need To Know

antibiotics and birth control

Yes, there are quite a few ways in which antibiotics and birth control pills can lead to unwanted drug interactions or reduced effectiveness of either of the two medicines. Antibiotics such as Griseofulvin and Rifampin while consumed with hormonal birth control options, lead to a lower effect of the birth control option chosen.

Birth control options are consumed, implanted, or installed within the body. For an increase in the level of estrogen and progestin levels in the body. These hormones are the ones that contribute to changes in menstrual cycles and help in overall protectiveness from pregnancy-related incidents. 

But when antibiotics such as Rifampin and Griseofulvin are consumed. While already on a birth control solution. The enzymes that are present in the liver perform a greater breakdown of estrogens. This leads to a much lower estrogen amount in the body, contrary to what the birth control solution intended to do.

Due to these substantially reduced estrogen levels, the effectiveness of the birth control solution is lost and there is a higher chance for a woman to be a victim of unwanted pregnancy. Keeping this in mind, any female who uses birth control options and antibiotics simultaneously must ensure to use the second method of protection too.

Another manner exists via which antibiotics can dampen the pregnancy-avoiding effects that come with birth control pills/injections / IUDs / implants. There is a process in the body that coordinates the re-circulation of estrogen within the body. When antibiotics are consumed, the process faces hindrances and ceases to re-circulate much-needed estrogen within the body.

The Process

  • Estrogen, also known as Ethinyl Estradiol, is present in several birth control pills. Once consumed by the body, it is converted by the liver into alternative chemicals. These alternative chemicals are secreted into the intestines via the bile which is being created inside the liver.
  • Now, the intestine contains necessary bacteria that function by converting those ‘alternative chemicals’ back to estrogen. Once the re-conversion is complete, the estrogen is activated and reabsorbed by the body. For regulating menstrual cycles this whole process is known as enterohepatic cycling.
  • The whole point of antibiotics is to kill bacteria. When antibiotics are consumed after birth control pills, they function by killing the inactive chemicals. Before they can be converted back to estrogen. 
  • This functionality of antibiotics against bacteria can put a stop to estrogen re-circulation and lead to undesired pregnancies. 

To not let this process cause any difference in your sex life, always swear to choose a second reliable method while on birth control pills and antibiotics together:

Women who are taking oral contraceptives with antibiotics face the highest chance of birth control failure. The whole point of these contraceptives is to maintain a specific hormone level that ensures the prevention of ovulation. Some other drugs besides Rifampicin and Rifabutin can affect the reliability of birth control pills. If you have been administered. With any of the below-mentioned antibiotics then ensure to use a condom or switch to a non-hormonal birth control option. Especially if you will be using these antibiotics for a prolonged duration. 

  • Antibiotics to restrict seizures, also known as anticonvulsant medicines, can reduce the effect of birth control pills. Some of these medicines are Phenytoin (Dilantin), Primidone (Mysoline), Phenobarbital and Carbamazepine (Tegretol).
  • There is an antifungal form of medication known as Griseofulvin. Consuming this while you are on birth control pills leads to an inevitable drop in birth control hormones, eventually making it easier to get pregnant.
  • Even anti-HIV protease inhibitors lead to a drop in the effectiveness of birth control pills

However, commonly prescribed antibiotics such as Doxycycline, Metronidazole, Roxithromycin, Temafloxacin, Ciprofloxacin, and Clarithromycin. Have been found not to impart any change in the result of consuming birth control pills. 

Side Effects Of Birth Control Pills And Antibiotics

Factually speaking, both these medicines share similar side effects. When consumed together, these common side effects begin to combine and collectively worsen. The most common issues to arise would be nausea, headaches, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, reduced overall appetite, and dizziness. 

Depending on age, type of birth control pill, hormonal concentration, how long have you been taking the pill and your body’s response to the pill, the side effects can vary from person to person.

Extra Information On Antibiotic – Rifamycin

This class of antibiotics is generally prescribed for treating a variety of mycobacterial infections, prolonged diarrhea, and tuberculosis. Mainly used to treat bacterial infections, Rifamycin can also be administered with a combination of other antibiotics. For the reason, inform your doctor of the name and dosage of the birth control pill that you are taking. Rifamycin can also turn your saliva, urine, tears, and sperm slightly red in color if consumed on a regular basis. 

Rifamycin possesses a killer ability to advocate the liver in breaking down chemical components and molecules. Whether it is a birth control pill, alcohol or any other substance entering the liver, the liver continuously processes it all. Due to this, any female who is consuming hormonal contraceptives. Such as pills, mini-pills, rings, patches, injections or even an implant. And is prescribed to take Rifamycin. Must be aware that their hormonal form of contraceptive may not work. In fact the likelihood of the birth control pill failing increases by 4-fold.

Although, if you have implanted a hormonal IUD (Skyla, NuvaRing, Mirena, Kyleena or Liletta). A non-hormonal IUD or a contraceptive shot, it is safe to consume antibiotics such as Rifamycin.

What if my healthcare provider prescribes me with Rifamycin?

No worries at all. Simply inform your healthcare provider of your hormonal contraceptive consumption habits. As long as you are yet using birth control pills, you can apply. The following recommendations in the event you forget to take two or more pills – 

  • Keep using non-hormonal birth control options (condoms, vaginal rings, etc). For a period of 7 days once you have stopped taking Rifamycin. Follow this only and only if you have seven hormonal pills in your package.
  • In the event, there are fewer than seven hormonal pills in the package. Once you have stopped taking Rifamycin, you can skip the non-hormonal pills (placebo pills) and purchase a new packet. Remember to yet continue to use the 2nd method of contraception for the first seven pills.

The bottom line is that not all antibiotics affect birth control pills. But, when an antibiotic does affect birth control pills. The only thing that you do not want would actually turn out to happen. By which we mean pregnancy.