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Myths and Facts

Common Myths about the PILL:

Myth: The Pill is 100% effective at preventing pregnancy

Fact: Aside from abstinence, no contraceptive method is 100% perfect! But when taken properly, combination birth control pills are 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

So while 99% is pretty good…remember, the Pill only helps prevent against pregnancy and does NOT protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). So for protection against STIs, be sure to use condoms!

Myth: If you’re taking other medications, you shouldn’t take the Pill

Fact: Other medications can affect how the Pill works. Drugs that can make it less effective include:

  • Drugs used for epilepsy such as barbiturates (e.g. phenobarbital) and phenytoin, primidone, topiramate, carbamazepine
  • Certain drugs used in the treatment of tuberculosis (e.g. rifampicin, rifabutin)
  • Drugs used for HIV or AIDS such as ritonavir
  • Herbal products containing St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
  • Antibiotics (e.g. penicillins, tetracyclines) for infectious diseases
  • Cyclosporine
  • Antifungals (griseofulvin)
  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs (e.g. clofibrate)
  • Antihypertensive drugs (for high blood pressure)
  • Antidiabetic drugs and insulin (for diabetes)
  • Prednisone
  • Sedatives and hypnotics (e.g. benzodiazepines, barbiturates, chloral hydrate, glutethimide, meprobamate)
  • Antidepressants (e.g. clomipramine)
  • Other drugs such as phenylbutazone, analgesics, modafinil, troleandomycin, Vitamin E and Vitamin B12.

In addition, vomiting and diarrhea may also make the Pill less effective.

This does not necessarily mean you should stop taking either the Pill or any other medications, but you should use another method of birth control (like a condom and spermicide) during the cycle in which you are taking other medications or when you experience diarrhea or vomiting. So if you’re taking any other medication that may
reduce the effectiveness of the Pill, ask your doctor or pharmacist (in person or
over the phone) about it.

Myth: The Pill is good at preventing pregnancy but that’s all

Fact: Not true! But to clarify something really important and as a reminder, one thing the Pill can’t do is protect you from sexually transmitted infections. So remember to use condoms!

Beyond preventing pregnancy, the Pill has been linked to a number of health benefits, such as:

  • Combination estrogen and progestin birth control pills reduce the incidence of cancer of the uterus and ovaries
  • Birth control pills reduce the likelihood of developing benign (non-cancerous) breast disease and ovarian cysts
  • Users of birth control pills lose less menstrual blood and have more regular cycles. The risk of developing iron deficiency anemia is thus reduced
  • There may be a decrease in painful menstruation and premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Acne, excessive hair growth and male hormone-related disorders also may be improved