If you take a birth control pill, you are trusting that medication to do its job to prevent pregnancy. While you probably know that skipping your oral contraceptive dose can certainly sabotage its effectiveness, you may not be as aware of other drugs or medications that don’t mix well with your birth control pills. Drug interactions are common, and it is the reason that your physician asks what other drugs you are taking before he or she prescribes a new medication. When it comes to birth control pills, it is very important that you know which drugs can potentially interact with the hormones you are taking and make your pill less effective at preventing pregnancy.
Some drugs simply need to be taken at a different time than your birth control pill. Others may cause breakthrough bleeding or lead to increased breakdown of hormones in the pill, which consequently reduce their effectiveness. The following types of medication are at risk for interfering with your birth control pill (or a hormone-containing patch, ring or injection):
Antibiotics (Rifampin only)
Anti-Fungal Medications (Griseofulvin and ketoconazole)
Sleep Disorder Medications - Modafinil (Provigil)
- St. John’s wort
- Saw palmetto
- Garlic pills
What Can You Do?
Just because a prescribed drug could interfere with your birth control doesn’t mean you can’t take it. You can use the above listed medications since your body needs them, but it just means you’ll need to use a back-up birth control method while you take them. You may choose to use another form of birth control such as an IUD, a diaphragm or a condom. It is also possible that your doctor can find another type/brand of drug for your medical issue that is not known to interfere with your birth control.
The lesson is this: always disclose your full medical history to your physician, including any type of drug or herbal remedy you are currently taking. At North Pointe OB/GYN, we work with each individual patient to find a birth control method that is right for them. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of birth control options to choose from!