Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Myth vs. Fact: Antibiotics and Birth Control


For those that are using hormonal birth control (HBC), most of you know the drill: you get ickers sickers, the doctor gives you antibiotics, and you are made well aware that your birth control may not be as effective. So out come the condoms. Birth control and antibiotics just don't mix. Or at least that was the message that was sent for many a years.

Well, a new study just came out in the journal Contraception that looked at a contraception failure in two combined databases with over 43,600 women. This was quite the complex study design, and I won't bore you with the details, but it was pretty darn complicated since they only had women that had been pregnant without any non-pregnant controls. Anywhoo, turns out while in the combined data set there was not a significant association between birth control failure and antibiotics. One of the data sets on its own did show an elevated risk (women were 1.5 times more likely to get pregnant while taking antibiotics) of contraception failure, it was still not signficant. But that being said, this was a pretty gosh darn complicated type of study, and quite frankly, I wasn't totally convinced. One thing that this study relied on was pregnant women that carried their pregnancy to term. Yup, so if you got knocked up because you were taking antibiotics and decided not to continue the pregnancy you wouldn't be included in this study. Pretty big gap.

Bottom line, if you REALLY don't want to get preggers and you are given antibiotics, just use condoms to be safe. Chances are that if you are taking your pill exactly like you should be, you will probably be fine. But if you definitely don't want to get knocked up by mistake, just use the condoms for the remainder of the month, and go to sleep with a quiet mind.

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