December 2007, Vol 1 Iss. 22
Many woman being treated for acne with antibiotics are concerned because they “heard somewhere” that antibiotics can decrease the effectiveness of the birth control pill (aka oral contraceptives). The effects of antibiotics on oral contraceptives may be overstated.
What we know:
Rifampin is an antibiotic that definitely decreases the effect of birth control, but we do not use this drug for acne.
The antibiotics that we use to treat acne are doxycycline, tetracycline, and minocycline. There is no data showing that these drugs decrease the effect of oral contraceptives’s. There is some data showing that these drugs do NOT effect oral contraceptives’s.
One study conducted on 356 patients showed a failure rate of 0.96% per year for women taking birth control pills vs. a 1.6% per year failure rate for women taking antibiotics with their birth control pills. This difference was not considered statistically significant.
reference: J Am Acad Dermatol. 1997 May;36(5 Pt 1):705-10.
Ask your gynecologist (I ask all the time):
I have spoken with several gynecologists on this subject and most of them say some version of the following “the acne antibiotics probably do not decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills, but if you want to be absolutely sure, then use a second form of birth control in addition to the pill, such as condoms”
Another important point:
Patients need to recognize that the expected oral contraceptive failure rate, regardless of antibiotic use, is at least 1% per year and it is not yet possible to predict in whom the birth control pill may fail.
The antibiotics that we use to treat acne probably do not lower the effectiveness of your birth control pill. And if they do affect your birth control pill, it is only a small effect. However, if you want to be absolutely sure that you do not get pregnant, then use a second form of birth control in addition to the pill, such as condoms.
Read more about acne treatment
The Staff and Doctors at Minars Dermatology
• What we know:
• The data:
• Ask your gynecologist (I ask all the time):
• Another important point:
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