Will antibiotics make birth control less effective? 

It is a common misconception that antibiotics reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills. The only antibiotic known to make the oral contraceptive pill, the patch, and the vaginal ring less effective is Rifampin (commonly known under the brand names Rifadin and Rimactane). This antibiotic is used to treat tuberculosis. Aside from that certain HIV protease inhibitors, anti-seizure medications, St. John’s Wort herbal supplement, and the anti-fungal medication Griseofulvin (used for life-threatening fungal infections) can also diminish the pill’s effectiveness. However, there have not been any recorded cases of alternate antibiotics, such as those for ear infections, reducing the efficiency of hormonal contraception.

Though taking birth control pills is still an effective method of contraception while using antibiotics (aside from Rifampin), pills do not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Here at SexInfo, we strongly support the use of barrier methods, such as a male or female condom, to provide STI protection.


Can the removal of a copper IUD affect your period?

Many users experience heavier or longer periods for the first three to six months following copper IUD insertion. Just as your body needs to adjust to the presence of the copper IUD, your body must also adjust to the removal of it. The slight trauma to your uterus or cervix from removing the device may cause a change or delay in your menstrual cycle. In this case, you have nothing to worry about, and your body should adjust back to normal soon. However, if your period is absent for more than three months, then you should talk to your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider will likely administer a physical exam; ask you questions about your periods, your lifestyle, and your symptoms; and perform a blood test to see if your hormones are at regular levels.

When an IUD is in place, ovulation still occurs. Due to this, if your IUD was removed near your time of ovulation, you could be at risk for pregnancy. Sperm can survive inside the vagina for up to five days, so it is important that you either abstained from sex or used another form of contraception (like a male condom) for one week before the IUD was removed. If you engaged in unprotected sex during the week before your IUD removal, then it would be wise to take a pregnancy test to ensure that you are not pregnant.


Do I need my parents’ permission to get birth control? If not, how would I go about obtaining it?

Parental permission is not always needed for prescription methods of birth control like the contraceptive pill; however, there may be certain locations where a health care provider will require parental permission. You can check with your current doctor about his or her policy.

If you live in the United States, Planned Parenthood is another option that is open to you. Planned Parenthood offers a number of resources for male and female reproductive health and will provide you with reliable information about your choices regarding contraception. Planned Parenthood’s policy is to protect client confidentiality, so you would not need to worry about your parents finding out about your birth control prescription. In fact, if they ever need to contact you, your Planned Parenthood doctor can call your mobile or home phone and assume the identity of a friend! Planned Parenthood has great healthcare providers that can administer any tests that you may need and they can provide you with birth control pills for free or at a relatively inexpensive price.

Remember that although birth control pills can be 99.7% effective at preventing pregnancy, they do not protect against the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). We highly recommend using latex condoms in conjunction with a hormonal form of contraception to strengthen your protection against sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy. Please also know that the age to purchase emergency contraception (Plan B or the “morning-after pill”) has been lowered to fifteen years, so you also have access to emergency contraception with a valid form of identification.


I recently had unprotected sex with my partner. I took the morning after pill the next day. What is my chance of becoming pregnant?

Because you took the morning-after pill, also known as the emergency contraceptive pill (ECP), within one day of your unprotected sexual encounter, there is very little chance that you could be pregnant. ECPs should be taken within 3-5 days of unprotected sex, and the earlier you take an ECP, the more effective it is at preventing an unwanted pregnancy. You minimized your risk of pregnancy by taking the morning-after pill so quickly after your sexual encounter; there was very little time for sperm to fertilize an egg. You may experience some menstrual irregularity because of the emergency contraceptive, but your period should resume its regular cycle soon. If your period continues to be absent or you are concerned that you may be pregnant, we recommend taking a home pregnancy test. You can schedule a clinical exam with your doctor if you are confused by or wish to confirm the test results.

It is important to remember that although the morning-after pill is intended to prevent pregnancy, it does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).