Surprising things that make your birth control less effectiveMonday, January 24, 2011
By NADINE WILSON All Woman writer
IF you are banking on your birth control to keep you kid free, you might want to pay attention to other factors that can affect their usefulness and totally mess things up for you. You would be surprised to know that the reason for your current pregnancy might not have anything to do with the brand contraceptive you use, but instead on your lifestyle and medications. So you might want to consider the following if you are on birth control and want to safeguard against introducing a little one to the world.
1 . Non-compliance: "The commonest reason for contraceptive failure is noncompliance," says local gynaecologist Dr Michael Abrahams. Some women sometimes forget to take their pill or sometimes find the side effects associated with them unbearable. "Sometimes the side effects may cause non-compliance because women experience nausea, for example, when they use certain pills," said the doctor.
2 . Antibiotics: Some doctors argue that antibiotics could significantly reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills and there have been many stories from women who have attested to this. According to the medical website mayoclinic.com, though there has not been a long range study to prove that they definitively lower the effectiveness of birth control, studies clearly show that the antibiotic rifampin — used in the treatment of tuberculosis, decreases the effectiveness of birth control pills in preventing ovulation. Both Dr Abrahams and local gynaecologist Dr Douglas McDonald do not believe there is much of a link between taking antibiotics and having your pill fail, but just to be safe, use a condom.
3 . Medications: Some medications have also been found to impact on the effectiveness of some contraceptives. Antidepressants such as Prozac and Zoloft as well as diabetic medications such as Avandia have been listed among those that limit the effectiveness of most contraceptives. Medications for HIV and some natural supplements have been known to affect the hormone levels in the body as well. Dr Abrahams said that while some medications reduce the effectiveness of the pill, "most of the common ones that people take, don’t interact with them".
4 . Grapefruit and grapefruit juice: It is a widely held belief that grapefruit contains a chemical that slows the metabolisation of oestrogen. Women who consume grapefruit are therefore encouraged to take progestin only pills to protect against pregnancy. "Grapefruit juice affects some pills, but not all," says Dr Abrahams.
5 . Timing: In order for the pills to be effective, they have to be taken at the same time everyday. This is especially the case for progestin only pills. So, if you are planning to go on the pills, remember to take them at a time that is most convenient to you so that you won’t forget. If you know you are prone to forget, you could set your alarm to ring at that time to serve as a reminder.
6 . Diarrhoea and vomiting: These two conditions over a prolonged period can affect the absorption of birth control pills. "When you have diarrhoea or you are constantly vomiting, you have to have a back-up plan," explained Dr Abrahams.
7 . Storage: Extreme heat or cold can help to lower the effectiveness of medications including contraceptives. So, to be on the safe side, you should store your pills out of direct sunlight and in a cool area. Also check to see that they are not expired or the device you plan to use is not defective.
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