Monday, April 26, 2010

The Medicated Girl’s Guide to Getting Down

A friend of ours recently came down with a sinus infection, and her doctor put her on antibiotics.

Two days later, she was nursing a Diet Coke at happy hour and complaining about having to use condoms for the rest of the month.

“Aren’t you on the pill?” a (male) friend asked.

She said that she was, but explained that she had to use condoms because of the antibiotics.

“Why?” he asked.

My friend and I were incredulous. Surely, everyone knows that antibiotics interact with hormonal birth control pills, and that you have to use what our high school health teacher called a “backup method” whenever you’re on antibiotics.

Our guy friend didn’t know that. OK, we figured, maybe guys don’t have this drilled into them, but surely all women know better than to bareback when they’re getting over a case of strep throat.

But some of the girls had never heard of that either. And so, in an effort to prevent a big “Opps!”, we’d like to present:

The Medicated Girl’s Guide to Getting Down

1. Ask your doctor. Whenever a doctor writes you anew RX, list all the other medications you’re taking and ask him/her about any possible interactions. It might be a good idea to write down your brand of BC in your phone/day planner, because these names are usually the hardest to remember. Mention any over-the-counter meds you take on a regular basis (especially vitamins/herbs/minerals). The doctor should be able to tell you if anything could undermine your pill’s effectiveness.

2. Ask the pharmacist. Yes, your doctor should have already told you about potential interactions, but medications only make up one small part of a doctor’s overall practice. Pharmacists, on the other hand, only work with the good stuff, and they’re often more knowledgeable about potential drug interactions. When you go to fill a new prescription, bring a list of all your OTC and prescribed meds, and ask the pharmacist about any potential red flags.

3. Be careful with the following medications. These substances may interact with birth control and probably call for a backup method.

a. Antibiotics
b. St. John’s Wort. If you take any herbal supplement that’s made up of multiple substances, check to make sure St. John’s Wort isn’t on the list of ingredients.
c. Rifampin (anti-tuberculosis drug)
d. Antiretroviral drugs (e.g., Ritonavir)
e. Phenobarbital (anti-seizure medication)
f. Griseofulvin (antifungal drug)
g. Carbamazepine (anti-seizure medication)
h. Topiramate (anti-seizure medication; migraine prevention)
i. Antidepressants/antianxiety medication. Some uncommon treatments for depression/anxiety, like Nefazodone, Diazepam, and Temazepam, can interfere with certain types of BC.
j. Soy Isoflavones (herbal supplement)

Most of these drugs have generics, so watch out for those too.

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