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Can Antibiotics Affect Menstruation?

By: Alison Cooper  | 

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  • Barditch-Crovo P., C.B. Trapnell, E. Ette, H.A. Zacur, J. Coresh, L.E. Rocco, C.W. Hendrix, C. Flexner. "The effects of rifampin and rifabutin on the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of a combination oral contraceptive." Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, April 1999. (Oct. 7, 2014) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10223781
  • Benaroch, Roy. "Oral Contraception and Antibiotics." WebMD, May 26, 2011. (Oct. 7, 2014) http://blogs.webmd.com/womens-health/2011/05/oral-contraception-and-antibiotics.html
  • Freedman, Megan. "Birth Control Pills and Antibiotic Use." Local Health, Dec 15, 2013. (Oct. 7, 2014) http://www.localhealth.com/article/birth-control-pills-and-antibiotic-use
  • MedlinePlus. "Rifampin." (Oct. 7, 2014) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a682403.html
  • Winderlich, Melanie. "Stress and Your Menstrual Period: A Cycle That You Can Break." Everyday Health, Feb. 17, 2010. (Oct. 7, 2014) http://www.everydayhealth.com/pms/managing-stress-during-pms.aspx

Antibiotics Menstruation FAQ

Can antibiotics cause a late period?
There's no scientific link between most antibiotics and the menstrual cycle, yet many women are convinced that antibiotics make their periods go out of whack. Often, the stress of being sick is enough to cause a delay in your period, as it's a well-known culprit when it comes to late and missed periods.
Can antibiotics affect your period flow?
Taking antibiotics doesn't generally have an impact on your period. Only one antibiotic, rifampin (used as a treatment for tuberculosis), has been shown to have any effect on your period, including painful and irregular periods, abnormal bleeding and the absence of periods.
Can you get pregnant on antibiotics?
While antibiotics can't make you pregnant or cause a pregnancy test to falsely come back positive, some may make birth control pills less effective, which could result in pregnancy. In fact, many antibiotic information sheets come with a warning. However, little research has been done in this, so there's not much evidence that antibiotics actually interfere with birth control pills. Some doctors suggest using a second type of birth control while taking antibiotics, just to be safe.
Can I treat an infection while menstruating?
Yes, taking antibiotics has no known effects on menstruation. Talk to your doctor as soon as you think you have an infection, regardless of where you are in your cycle.
Do antibiotics affect fertility?
Studies have shown that several antibiotics like tetracycline, penicillin, erythromycin can adversely affect male sperm and fertility. These effects should stop within three months of stopping the course of antibiotics. However, little research has been done on the effects of frequent antibiotic use on women's fertility.