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Antibiotics and Birth Control Pills

According to LiveScience, it’s a myth that antibiotics screw up birth control pills.  In the unsourced blurb, someone named “Carroll” states:

“Many physicians even believe this,” Carroll said. Alone, birth control pills fail about one percent of the time. And that failure rate is unchanged when taken with the vast majority of antibiotics, Carroll said.

Apparently, the whole rumor got started because of a marked interaction between birth control and rifampin.  This should not ordinarily be a huge concern as birth control goes, though.  Rifampin is primarily used in a coctail of antibiotics to combat tuberculosis and leprosy.  I suspect most people with either of those conditions aren’t having a lot of sex.

This isn’t one of my areas of interest or expertise but it does have to do with something I am quite interested in — myths involving human sexuality.  If any of my readers have any documented evidence for this, I’d certainly appreciate a little help with my homework.  I hate spouting facts based on one article on the internet.  That’s how rumors get started.

In all fairness, I’ve always heard this, and most of the antibiotics I’ve been prescribed in my life have had a warning about birth control interactions.  Doctors aren’t immune from rumors, to be sure, but I’d sure like to get to the bottom of this.




6 thoughts on “Antibiotics and Birth Control Pills

  1. I don’t have any knowledge about the interaction… but usage of rifampin is a little more common that indicated above. I’ve taken it several times myself and know others (without chronic conditions) that have done so as well.

    It can also be used in the treatment of MRSA and ca-MRSA is common crowded living situations such as the military and colleges. I’m sure there is a high usage of birth control pills among college students.

    Posted by Shelley Mountjoy | June 22, 2009, 11:13 am
  2. Shame on Wikipedia! That makes a lot more sense, particularly the part about MRSA, as that is a relatively common problem in colleges and college jobs, particularly service industry. Thanks, Shelley.

    Posted by hambydammit | June 22, 2009, 11:22 am

    Mayo Clinic says otherwise. And if you can’t trust them, then you can’t trust anyone.

    Posted by Sami Snyder | July 14, 2009, 11:01 pm
  4. Heh…

    The Mayo Clinic’s official position is: ~Shrug~ Maybe… maybe not…

    Posted by hambydammit | July 15, 2009, 12:00 am
  5. Better to be safe than sorry though no? Birth control is so new in relation to other drugs and the hidden risks are only now becoming more apparent.

    Posted by Kate Meredith | February 1, 2010, 5:17 pm


  1. Pingback: What do you think about teen pregnancy? - Page 2 - PersonalityCafe - July 11, 2009

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