Birth control pills are the most popular and commonly used method of contraception. Its effectiveness is 99.7% if correctly used and if no other drugs are messed.
Pills were launched in 1960 in the US and approved in the UK in 1961. Many women consider it as “miracle” contraception. At that time (1961-1967) contraceptive pills were available only for married women. Some women borrowed wedding rings from friends in order to get a prescription for contraceptive pills. In 60s it was “pills boom” – birth control pills became very popular and gained 1.2 million users within the first two years of its launch.
According to official statistics, about 16-18% of women aged 15-44 currently using contraceptive pills.
Birth control pills can protect from unwanted unplanned pregnancies ONLY if pills taken regularly every day at the same time and if no other drugs are messed with pills. Several medications can make contraceptive pills less effective and even not effective. There are only two solutions for these situations – abstinence and backup methods of contraception.
It is important to mention that even without taking any other medications your birth control pills could be “inactivated” or “missed” if you have vomiting or diarrhea. At the same time, pills absorption can be prevented in cases of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
How drugs inactivate pills
It is all about metabolism and natural body processes. Very similar to food processing and digestion, our body has complicated and intricate processes for breaking down used drugs and clearing them from the body. The key is so called “P450” enzyme responsible for breaking hormonal contraceptive pills. Several other medications can speed up or slow down enzyme activity – if enzyme is super activated by other drugs, it will break and remove birth control pills faster than normal, resulting in lower levels of the hormones to get the job done. Actually pills cannot insure protection from unwanted pregnancies.
If you want best contraceptive effect from birth control pills, you need to avoid certain medications.
Birth control pills and antibiotics
Some health providers argue that antibiotics could significantly reduce the effectiveness of contraceptive pills. At the same time, there are many stories from women who were forced to combine pills with antibiotics who get pregnant unexpectedly. According to present studies some antibiotics (doxycycline, tetracycline, ampicillin, metronidazole) don’t make pills inactive.
There is scientific evidence that antibiotics for lung infection and tuberculosis (rifampin, rifabutin) can interfere with the birth control pill.
Birth control pills and Anti-seizure medication
Many women use regularly drugs for mood correction, depression or epileptic seizures. Birth control pills are not the best choice for these women.
It was confirmed that Barbituates, Carbamazepine, Oxycarbazepine, Phenytoin, Primidone, Topiramate, Felbamate and Lamotrigine can reduce the effectiveness of contraceptive pills, increasing the rate of unplanned accidental pregnancies. At the same time, hormonal contraceptive pills can reduce activities of mentioned drugs, increasing the possibility of having seizure or depression episodes or manic behavior. If you have epilepsy or bipolar disorder, better to avoid birth control pills.
Another option of contraception (better not hormonal) would be recommended in cases of use the following drugs:
It was noted that antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV reduce the effectiveness of contraceptive hormonal pills, including Nevirapine (Viramune), Nelfinavir, Ritonavir (Lopinavir, Kaletra), Darunavir (Prezista), Efavirenz (Sustiva), Fosamprenavir, Lopinavir, Tipranavir. At the same time, there are antiretroviral drugs that don’t mess with contraceptive pills, including Tenofovir.
Birth control pills and Anti-Fungal Medications
Scientists believe the risk of anti-fungal medications affecting birth control pills is low but possible. Better to be protected and avoid Griseofulvin (Gris-PEG), Nystatin and Ketoconazole (Extina, Nizoral, Xolegel).
Birth control pills and drugs for sleep disorders
Modafinil (Provigil) used for some sleep disorders, can reduce the effectiveness of contraceptive pills.
Birth control pills and some natural remedies
According to recent studies some natural remedies can interact with hormonal contraceptive pills. It is recommended to avoid St. John’s Wort (used during depression, anxiety or insomnia), Saw palmetto (used during hair loss), Alfalfa (used during kidney, bladder and prostate diseases), Garlic pills (used against high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other heart or blood diseases), Flaxseed (commonly used against constipation and irritable bowel syndrome), Grapefruit and grapefruit juice (recommended for fat burning).
Birth control pills, respiratory and diabetic medications
Recent studies show that some respiratory drugs (Theophylline) and diabetic medication (Avandia) can also reduce the effectiveness of contraceptive pills.
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Disclaimer: It is strongly recommended to consult your doctor for professional advice. Above mentioned information and recommendations are just general and should be adapted to each person according to personal health indicators and status.