Oral contraceptive efficacy and antibiotic interaction: a myth debunked

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2002 Jun;46(6):917-23. doi: 10.1067/mjd.2002.120448.


The purpose of this study was to review the pharmacokinetic and clinical literature regarding the efficacy of oral contraceptives when used concomitantly with antibiotic therapy. Relevant literature was identified by searching MEDLINE and EMBASE. Other sources were located by consulting the bibliographies of the material collected from MEDLINE and EMBASE. Pharmacokinetic evidence demonstrates that plasma levels of oral contraceptive steroids are unchanged with the concomitant administration of antibiotics, including ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, clarithromycin, doxycycline, metronidazole, ofloxacin, roxithromycin, temafloxacin, and tetracycline. However, reduced steroid levels have been reported in women taking rifampin with oral contraceptives. Clinical reports of contraceptive failure with antibiotic use are retrospective, have multiple potential biases, and are not supported by pharmacokinetic data. Available scientific and pharmacokinetic data do not support the hypothesis that antibiotics (with the exception of rifampin) lower the contraceptive efficacy of oral contraceptives.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Contraceptives, Oral / adverse effects
  • Contraceptives, Oral / pharmacokinetics*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Rifampin / adverse effects
  • Rifampin / pharmacokinetics


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Contraceptives, Oral
  • Rifampin