Arlanda’s Corner: Do Antibiotics Affect Birth Control Pills?

April 25, 2018

Arlanda Smith, MSN, WHNP-BC

For years now, women have been told that using antibiotics while taking oral contraceptive (OC’s) will put them at greater risk for pregnancy.  However, research has shown that the only antibiotics proven to impact OC’s are Rifampin and Rifabutin, antibiotics used to treat Tuberculosis and other bacterial infections.

These antibiotics increase enzymes in your body that can prevent the OC’s from being absorbed, decreasing their effectiveness and making women more vulnerable to unwanted pregnancy while using OC’s.  Rifampin was also shown to decrease the effectiveness of the estrogen/progestin transdermal patch, Xulane, and the vaginal ring, Nuva Ring as well.  If you are taking this antibiotic a non-hormonal contraceptive is recommended for the prevention of pregnancy.

Other common antibiotics used have NOT been proven to affect OC’s, and back up contraceptive is not required.

While majority of antibiotics do not impact the effectiveness of OC’s there are other medications that can including:

  • Anti HIV Medications
  • Anti-seizure Medications
  • Antifungal Medications

Arlanda Smith is a certified Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner with Memorial Healthcare’s Health Partners for Women. She is accepting new patients with most insurance. To reach Arlanda, contact (989) 729-4300.

Sources:  Up To Date and National Institutes of Health