Does treating a UTI affect birth control?
UTIs are extremely common, and although they can be treated with antibiotics, those antibiotics can cause a whole bunch of other problems. It’s important to know the relationship between antibiotics and birth control, and also know if antibiotics can react with any other medication that you use. Here’s more on treating a UTI while on birth control.
Using hormonal birth control
Birth control pills are hormonal contraceptives that contain a dose of man-made estrogen and progestin hormones. These hormones inhibit natural cyclical hormones in the body to prevent pregnancy. Birth control pills usually stop the body from ovulating; they also change the lining of the womb so it's unlikely for a fertilized egg to be implanted.
You may experience some symptoms while on the pill, such as:
- Weight gain or bloating (especially in the legs)
- Sore breasts
- Small amounts of blood, or spotting
- Lighter or spotty periods
- Mood changes
Treating UTIs with antibiotics
Because UTIs are caused by bacterial infections in the bladder and urinary tract, they can be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics are medication designed to either kill bacteria directly or prevent bacteria from multiplying and sustaining itself.
In order to determine treatment for a UTI, your doctor will take a urine sample to produce a culture to find out which type of bacteria you have. The doctor can prescribe one of the following antibiotics:
- Ceftriaxone (Rocephin)
- Cephalexin (Keflex)
- Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
- Bactrim, Septra
Different antibiotics work on different types of bacteria. It’s important to remember that antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections. That means it is ineffective against viral and fungal infections.
Do antibiotics affect birth control?
Certain antibiotics can potentially make your hormonal birth control less effective by causing enzymes in the liver to break down estrogen faster. The decreasing estrogen and progestin levels in your body reduce the effect of birth control pills. This means you may need to adjust the dosage of your birth control pill if you need to take antibiotics for a UTI.
Right now the only antibiotic that reduces birth control effects is rifampin, which is usually prescribed to treat tuberculosis. Rifampin can also affect hormone levels in vaginal rings and birth control patches.
If you are on birth control or are prescribed rifampin, consider asking for an alternatively safe antibiotic or use a different form of birth control that is not affected by hormonal changes, like condoms.
When should you not take birth control?
While birth control is safe to take if you have a UTI, there are some conditions where you should opt out of hormonal contraceptives, regardless of whether you have a UTI or not.
Birth control is generally not recommended for women who have any of these conditions:
- Over the age of 35 who smokes
- Blood clots (in the arms, legs, lungs)
- Heart or liver disease
- Breast or uterus cancer
- High blood pressure
- Migraines with aura
Some drugs aside from antibiotics, like antiseizure meds, can reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills. If you’re taking birth control, keep some of these tips in mind:
- Keep a secondary form of birth control just in case. Ideally, choose one that is non-hormonal
- Take your pills routinely and regularly, at the same time every day. If you use a patch, replace it on the same day every week. Be consistent
- Birth control is medication. If you visit your doctor or health care profession, tell them what you’re taking and don't wait until the last minute to request refills.
Avoid UTIs before you have to treat one: the relationship between UTIs and birth control
While most antibiotics do not affect birth control, you can try alternative forms of birth control that won’t cause hormonal changes. Avoid spermicides and diaphragms, as those types of contraceptives tend to increase your risk for a UTI. Other ways you can prevent getting a UTI are:
- Avoid barrier contraceptives like diaphragms as birth control, which can increase your risk of getting an infection.
- Take care of your vaginal area before and after sex, and wipe front to back
- Urinate before and after sex to help flush out bacteria from sexual intercourse. This can help prevent the chance of an infection occurring
- Take Uqora directly after sex to reduce the chance of getting an infection.