Birth Control Effectiveness: Grapefruit and Other Dangers that Lower Contraceptive Effectiveness

Do you drink grapefruit juice every morning? Have you taken St. John’s wort recently? Hormonal birth control pills can interact with many other things. Find out what you are doing that might lower your birth control’s effectiveness even if you didn’t know.

Timing. It is important to take your birth control pill at the same time every day. Aim to take it within the same hour, if possible. This is particularly important for progestin-only pills. If you are constantly late with your pills, choose another time that is more convenient for you. Consider setting your watch to beep, or another similar reminder to help you take your pills at the right time.

Storage. Don’t store your medicine someplace that is too hot or too cold. You want a place that is out of direct sunlight, such as a drawer. Heat and cold can affect different medications different ways, and often they can lower the effectiveness.

Birth control pills, like all other kinds of pills, are a type of medication. This means that you need to always inform your doctor and pharmacist of what kind of birth control you are on. This is to help you avoid any complications or bad interactions between drugs. Here are some things that interact with birth control. (For more information on how hormonal birth control works, and the risks and side effects, as well as other birth control options, visit

Some antibiotics. Rifampin, or Rifapentine is an antibiotic generally used to treat tuberculosis. Other antibiotics are generally fine when you are on the pill, however. Demeclocyclene and doxycyclene are two other antibiotics that can interfere with your birth control. Ask your doctor for other alternatives, and make sure that you get prescribed something that won’t interfere with your contraceptive plan.

St. John’s Wort. This is an herbal remedy that you can buy at any pharmacy. It is not prescription or over the counter. It helps combat depression. However, it also lessens the effectiveness of birth control, and as such, should not be taken without consulting a health care professional.

Grapefruit and Grapefruit Juice. Grapefruit contains a compound that slows the absorption of estrogen hormones to the body. This means that it does not affect progestin-only pills.

Antifungal medications. Certain medications that are taken orally to treat yeast infections can disrupt oral contraceptives. This includes griseofulvin.

Antihistamines. There is currently a debate in the medical community if anti-allergy medications, or antihistamines can be linked to the failure of birth control.

Anticonvulsants. Many medications taken to prevent seizures can lessen the effectiveness of birth control pills. Speak to your doctor before dealing with these.

Some other drugs that might interact with your birth control include corticosteroids, bronchidilators, and certain anxiety medications. These are not entirely confirmed, so ask your health care professional about interactions.

These interactions apply to other methods of hormonal birth control as well, including the Patch, the Vaginal Ring, and Depo-Provera.

Just as your other medication can affect your birth control, remember that your birth control can also affect your other medication. Avoiding negative drug interactions is important for you on both counts, so always ask your doctor or pharmacist about drug interactions when you get a new prescription.