In this age of nuclear families and free sex, birth control measures are adopted by almost all women of reproductive age. Oral contraceptives are the most common forms of temporary birth control measures adopted by a huge percentage of women worldwide.

Though not entirely without side effects, many women prefer the convenience of popping pills than inserting intra uterine devices into their bodies. However, the effectiveness of birth control pills can be affected by a number of factors. Intake of antibiotics is one of the factors that can reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills.

how antibiotics affect birth control pills

How Antibiotics Can Interfere With Oral Contraceptives

Birth control pills work on the body by raising the level of estrogen and preventing unwanted pregnancy. This is facilitated by the ethinyl estradiol which is an estrogen that is present in the pills. This element is converted into other chemicals by the liver.

The chemicals are then passed into the bile and converted back to form active estrogen with the help of bacteria inside the intestine and absorbed by the body. With the intake of antibiotics, the estrogen levels in the body will be reduced, leading to an opposite effect that is created by birth control pills.

Antibiotic Effects On Birth Control Pills

When you take antibiotics, the intestine cannot reform estrogen that has already been broken down by the liver. This will again reduce the levels of estrogen in the body, paving way for a pregnancy that is unplanned even if you are on oral contraceptives.

Due to this risk, many companies that produce oral contraceptive pills and antibiotics give strong warning about its possible interference with each other to keep the users aware and take extra precautions.

Antibiotics That Can Interfere With Birth Control Pills

Antibiotics like tetracycline and ampicillin are on the top of the list when it comes to decrease in the efficacy of oral contraceptives.

Rifampin, which is a drug that is used for treatment of tuberculosis, is known to block the activity of oral contraceptives as the drug is known to prevent the ovulation cycle in women.

Who Are At Higher Risk?

Women who are taking a lower dose of oral contraceptives are at higher risk of failure when on antibiotics than those under higher dose of oral pills. Therefore, women who suffer from chronic illnesses and are under long term treatment with antibiotics must not consider birth control pills as a safe option for contraception. It is important to talk to your doctor in such cases and opt for other reliable contraceptive methods to avoid unwanted tensions.

how antibiotics affect birth control pills

Preventive Methods

While taking antibiotics on a short term basis, women must make sure that they talk to their doctor about it and adopt a second method of contraception during this time like spermicides or condoms.

The use of these methods has to be continued for a week or after stopping the antibiotics for complete protection. There is no other side effect with the usage of antibiotics along with birth control pills other than unwanted pregnancies. Many women are unaware of this interference and end up in trouble and possible abortions due to this.