Using Hormonal Methods of Birth Control With Other Medications

HealthLinkBC File Number: 
Last Updated: 
July 2014

What is hormonal birth control?

Hormonal birth control methods include:

  • the patch;
  • injectable birth control (Depo-Provera®),
  • hormonal intra-uterine system (IUS) such as Mirena and Jadess;
  • vaginal ring (NuvaRing™); and
  • oral contraceptive pills (the Pill).

Hormonal birth control methods prevent pregnancy by using 1 or 2 hormones similar to the estrogen and progestin produced by a woman's body.

How do hormonal birth control methods work?

A woman becomes pregnant when her egg is fertilized by a man's sperm. The fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus where it grows and develops into a fetus.

A woman's hormones control the release of the egg and prepare her body to support the growth of the fetus.

Hormonal birth control methods stop pregnancy by:

  • stopping the ovary from releasing the egg; and/or
  • stopping the sperm from reaching the egg.

Can other medications affect my birth control?

Yes. Certain medications may make your hormonal birth control not work properly or not work at all.

Medications that may affect your birth control include, but are not limited to:

  • antibiotics such as rifampin;
  • anticonvulsants or anti-seizure medications such as carbamazepine, phenytoin, or topiramate;
  • anti-retrovirals such as ritonavir; and
  • herbal medications such as St. John's wort.

Always tell your health care provider or pharmacist if you are taking hormonal birth control. Always ask which medications may affect your birth control.

How can I prevent pregnancy when using hormonal birth control with other medications?

To prevent pregnancy, use a barrier method in addition to your hormonal birth control. Barrier methods of birth control include condoms, diaphragms, or cervical caps. These methods are not affected by medications.

Speak to your health care provider about how long you should use an additional method of birth control, even after you stop taking a medication that affects your birth control. In general, you should continue using a barrier method until your next menstrual period, or for at least 2 weeks.

For More Information

For more information on birth control options and how to prevent pregnancy while taking medications or herbal supplements, speak with your health care provider, pharmacist, or public health nurse.

Is it an emergency?

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If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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