Q. I have a friend who told me that she got pregnant while taking birth control pills because she did not know that the antibiotic prescribed by her doctor for a throat infection would reduce the effectiveness of the Pill. Could this be true?
A. Yes. Many drugs can interact with the Pill and make it less effective, among them are some of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics like tetracycline or ampicillin. Anticonvulsant medication such as phenobarbital or primidone, tranquilizers such as Valium, and antifungal drugs like griseofulvin can also interfere. The bottom line is: if you are taking the Pill and your doctor prescribes any medication, be sure to remind her that you are on birth control pills. Do not assume that your doctor will remember. Be sure to ask specifically if a drug will alter the effectiveness of the Pill. If it does, you will need to use an additional form of contraception while you are taking the medication and perhaps for some time afterward.
Dr. Marianne Legato, Professor Emerita of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University is an internationally known academic physician, author, lecturer, and specialist in gender-specific medicine. She is founding member of the International Society for Gender Medicine and also the founder and director of The Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine at Columbia University and its next iteration, The Foundation for Gender-Specific Medicine. These enterprises are the first collaborations between academic medicine and the private sector focused solely on gender-specific medicine: the science of how normal human biology differs between men and women and of how the diagnosis and treatment of disease differs as a function of gender and sex. Her ground breaking textbook on Gender-and Sex Specific Medicine has been published in 2017 in the 3rd edition.
She has published extensively on Gender and Sex Specific Medicine, both scientifically and for the lay public. She is also the founding editor of the journal Gender Medicine, and the Journal Gender and Genome, published for the scientific community. In 1992, Dr. Legato won the American Heart Association’s Blakeslee Award for the best book written for the lay public on cardiovascular disease. She is a practicing internist in New York City and has been listed each year in New York Magazine’s “Best Doctors” since the feature’s inception in 1993.