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Antibiotics & the Pill

Question

I am taking the combined hormonal contraceptive pill and I am not sure whether I need to use another type of contraception like condoms if I am taking antibiotics at the same time. Can you help?

Answer

It is always important to talk to your doctor about any medications that you are taking because some medications can reduce the effectiveness of the combined contraceptive pill.

The latest advice is that additional precautions such as condoms or abstaining from sex are not necessary if you are taking the more commonly used antibiotics at the same time as your combined hormonal contraceptive pill. Commonly used antibiotics include the penicillins, cephalosporins and tetracyclines.

There are other certain antibiotic medications that can reduce the effectiveness of the combined hormonal contraceptive pill if they are taken together. These include the much less commonly-used liver-enzyme inducing antibiotics Rifampicin and Rifabutin. If you did happen to be taking these two less common antibiotics and the pill it is best to talk to your doctor or call Talkline for advice on 1300 658 886.

Reference: Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare. Drug interactions with hormonal contraception. UK: FSRH, 2011. Available at: http://www.fsrh.org/pdfs/CEUGuidanceDrugInteractionsHormonal.pdf.

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