How does chronic medication affect contraceptives

A lot of people have chronic conditions they take treatment for, but may not be aware of how this treatment may interact (become affected by) their chosen contraceptive method. If you have a chronic illness and are thinking of getting a long or short contraceptive, but worried about how your medication may affect your chosen method, here are a few things to keep in mind.

What is chronic medication?

Firstly, it’s important to understand what a chronic illness is. A chronic illness is a long-term health condition. Examples of chronic illnesses are Diabetes, TB, Heart disease, HIV/AIDS, and mental health illnesses such as bipolar and depression. Chronic medication or treatment is used to treat these long-lasting illnesses. Chronic medication needs to be taken routinely, over a long period of time to control the effects of the chronic illness on your body.

Can it affect your contraception?

The pill and other types of contraceptives (like the patch, ring, or injections) usually contain the hormones estrogen and progestin. These stop the eggs from leaving the ovaries, preventing pregnancy. However, some chronic medication reduces the effectiveness of contraceptives.

Antibiotics like those taken to treat acne, a sore throat, UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections) and vaginal infections can usually be taken with hormonal contraceptives. But others, like an antibiotic called rifampicin, which is used to treat tuberculosis or meningitis, can affect how effective the contraceptive is.

Some antiviral drugs used to treat HIV are also known to make hormonal birth control less effective. Luckily, there are some antiretroviral drugs that don’t interfere with the pill’s effectiveness, so it’s important to discuss your options with your healthcare provider.

What should you do?

If you’re on a form of chronic medication, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider on which contraceptive method would work best for you. You may have to consider some non-hormonal birth control options, such as the copper IUD. Like all birth control methods, it has some risks, but overall, it’s really safe. Visit your nearest clinic to find out whether they have the copper IUD or talk to a healthcare provider to find out if it’s right for you.

Finding the right birth control method can take some time, especially if you’re on chronic medication. Talking through your options with your healthcare provider is a good first step, though, so I advise you to do this. Remember, to use a condom along with whichever contraceptive method you choose to use. This will help you prevent unwanted pregnancy and stay protected against STIs.

Remember if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).