“Do antibiotics mess with my birth control?”

You ask. Tia answers. #TiaTalkTuesday

One of the top benefits of birth control should be peace of mind. Yet, it feels like everyone is haunted by their own version of:

“My best friend’s cousin’s sister’s friend who got pregnant WHILE ON BIRTH CONTROL...”

Causing us to hold our breath, cross all our body parts…

… and constantly wonder, is my birth control actually working like it’s supposed to?!

With the goal of reducing those unnecessary heart palpitations and debunking one of the many points of confusion around birth control effectiveness, this #TiaTalkTuesday I’m answering the top asked q:

Despite a common misconception that your BC no longer works every time you get meds for a sinus infection or a UTI, the truth is — the majority of antibiotics do NOT interfere with your birth control at all.

Specifically, antibiotics prescribed for many common illnesses (think: Ampicillin, Amoxicillin), UTIs (Ciprofloxacin) and acne (Doxycycline, Tetracycline) are 100% safe to use with birth control pills, and will not reduce effectiveness.

The same is true if you use other BC methods like the patch or ring. And if you have an IUD, the shot or implant, you’ve got nothin’ to worry about!

The one important exception is a super strong antibiotic called Rifampin, which is prescribed to treat Tuberculosis — not something you’re likely to encounter all that often.

Rifampin can mess with the pill, and there is some research to suggest that it may also affect the patch and the ring. If you are taking Rifampin, the therapy typically lasts 6–9 months, so a different BC option like the implant or IUD might make sense for you. If you decide to stay on the pill, patch, or ring while taking Rifampin, just be sure to use condoms as a backup method!

What about other medications?

While most antibiotics don’t affect your BC, some medications used to treat epilepsy and bipolar disorder can make the pill, patch, and ring less effective. And some (but not all) antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV can make the pill less effective, too.

Since it’s basically impossible to remember random drug names — let alone pronounce them! — I made you a handy list in case you come across any of these:

So — so long as you’re not taking any of these — and importantly, are using your BC consistently and effectively — I encourage you to:

And trust that your birth control is doin’ what it’s supposed to do! 😘

Confidently yours,

💕 ️Tia

Tia is a personal, private chat-based women’s health advisor you can message with about birth control, sexual health, periods and more. Made by a team of women’s health experts, Tia knows you, learns you, and is your go-to for all those “ugh!” , “oops…”, and “huh?” moments. On Tuesdays, we surface the top *anonymous* questions from the community and report back with the answer. Have a burning q you want us to tackle? Leave it in the comments below or email info@asktia.com.

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