If you’re on the Pill, you obviously don’t want to fall
pregnant right now – which is why you should be on the alert for medicines that
make it less effective.
The Pill” is the nickname for the convenient combination
contraceptive many women rely on and fewer than one in every 100 women who take
it correctly for a year will fall pregnant. The progesterone “Mini Pill” is
about 96% effective.
But the risk of an accident – 1% for the combination pill
and 4% for the Mini Pill – can increase dramatically and even threaten your
health if you don’t do things right. And some seemingly innocent medications
can also make the Pill less effective. Some women shouldn’t
pop the Pill
Women over 45
shouldn’t take contraceptive pills at all and neither should those over 35 who
smoke, as the two factors combined increase the risk of heart disease.
In addition, some women can’t tolerate oestrogen
(found in the combination pill) – including those with heart
thrombosis and a family history of breast, womb or liver cancer. Poorly
managed diabetes, being overweight and gall
bladder trouble are also reasons to avoid taking the Pill.
Watch out for these
drugs“Many kinds of medicine make the Pill less effective,"
says pharmacist Jaco Lotriet. Unexpected bleeding is one sign a drug is
undermining the Pill.
Below is a list of common and specific drugs and remedies
that can compromise your contraceptive protection and increase the risk of an
is an antibiotic?
Antibiotics can render the Pill ineffective and it's
therefore a good idea to take other precautions as well. They influence
intestinal function, which is important for effective absorption of the Pill.
Some can cause your body to metabolise the contraceptive too quickly, increasing
the risk of pregnancy.
Medications to look out for are TB drugs and drugs
containing penicillin or tetracycline.
2. Herbal remedies
St John's Wort, herbs made from the berries of the chaste
tree and antacids are among the medications than can make the Pill less
effective. Some experts say antacids form a protective layer on the stomach
lining, which undermines absorption of the Pill.
3. Acne medication
and cancer treatment
If you're taking an acne remedy containing
isotretinoin, such as Roaccutane, you should wait a year or two before
trying to conceive, as this medication can cause birth
defects. It also makes the Pill less effective.Talk to your doctor about alternative contraception if
you're on an acne drug. You need to do everything in your power to avoid
pregnancy for up to two years after stopping the medication.
People on cancer
treatment should also seek medical advice about other kinds of
When the Pill is used in combination with HIV/Aids
medication, both treatments can be influenced.
Anti-epileptics, as well as drugs containing barbiturates,
can increase the risk of pregnancy.
Preventing pregnancy is especially important if you're
taking these drugs because there can be risks to the baby. Your doctor could
prescribe a stronger pill or an alternative contraceptive method.