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Itchy Questions about Birth Control and Antibiotics

PHOTO: A belief that birth control pill effectiveness can be reduced by antibiotics is largely a misunderstanding, according to Planned Parenthood. Photo credit: National Organization for Women.
PHOTO: A belief that birth control pill effectiveness can be reduced by antibiotics is largely a misunderstanding, according to Planned Parenthood. Photo credit: National Organization for Women.
April 18, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – It's the season for sinus infections, which are often connected to seasonal allergies.

Tree pollen is the most plentiful trigger in Wyoming right now, and for those who need to use antibiotics to get a sinus infection under control, some advice from a Planned Parenthood physician.

Dr. Laura Dalton says she's heard women say they're worried that antibiotics could reduce the effectiveness of their birth control pills.

But she says that’s a misunderstanding, as there's only one class of antibiotic (Rifampin) – commonly used to treat tuberculosis – to be concerned about.

"We don't have any evidence from studies that show that other types of antibiotics affect the concentration of contraception in the bloodstream," she explains.

But there's more to the story. Dalton cautions that side effects from antibiotics, which can include vomiting or serious diarrhea, can affect the absorption of birth control medications.

Dalton says it's best to ask questions of your physician.

"If you have other health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and make sure that provider can give you the right precautions for any side effects that you may develop being on those medications,” she says. “And if the birth control method that you're using is the right method for whatever preexisting conditions you have, or any new medications that they may be prescribing."


Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY