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Ask Heather

Ask Heather delivers sharp insights and solutions to everyday problems. Ask Heather for Advice about family, life, love, sex, and anything else to have answers to the burning questions you want to know.

Do antibiotics decrease the efficacy of birth control?
This is an excellent question since many women aren’t aware of the contraindications of taking hormonal contraceptives. There are certain medicines and supplements that may make birth control less effective. While it is not true that all antibiotics or medications will decrease the efficacy of birth control in all women, there is a variety, including penicillin and tetracycline derivatives that could impair the effectiveness of birth control in some women.

However, studies clearly show that in the case of one antibiotic, rifampin, does decrease effectiveness of birth control in preventing ovulation. Additionally, if you are taking a low-dose oral contraceptive, for example loestrin, you could be more susceptible to this potential antibiotic effect.

Medications, antibiotics or herbs can interfere with the effectiveness of birth control. Here are some to be aware of:

  • The antibiotic rifampin
  • Certain medications that are taken by mouth for yeast infections
  • Certain HIV medicines
  • Some anti-seizure medicines
  • St. John’s Wort

Letting your healthcare provider know that you are taking hormonal contraceptives prior to beginning any other medications or supplements is the best way to assure that you are still protected. Also, during times that you are utilizing medications that may have this effect on your hormonal birth control use a backup method such as a condom, female condom or diaphragm for the duration of your regimen or antibiotic prescription. Keep in mind that hormonal birth control does not protect against sexually transmitted infections, so to be protected all the time be sure to use a condom every time.

When do I start talking to my child about sex?
Sometimes it can be difficult for adults to know when to raise issues, but the important thing is to maintain an open relationship with children which provides them with opportunities to ask questions when they have them.. Viewing sex education as an on-going conversation about values, attitudes and issues as well as providing facts can be helpful.

Sex is vital and important part of being human. The long and short of it? As early and as often as possible and answer their questions as they ask them. From the moment that a baby is born, they receive messages about sexuality, love and relationships. Everything you do from how you speak to them, hold them and how you interact with those around you sends them very influential messages. 

As they start to become verbal and curious, children begin to ask a lot of questions, no holds barred. As those questions arise answer them honestly, be short and to the point and always ask them what they think first. By asking them back the question, you can make sure that you understand what they are asking you, plus you get an idea of what they already believe and now have an opportunity to dispel any misinformation that they may have.

How will you know when they have had enough? Because they will stop asking. When my daughter at 3 asked me how a baby is made, I told her the truth and when we got to the penis-vagina part, because she kept asking me questions, she said, “eww mommy that’s gross,” and the questions stopped. Totally normal and appropriate response, and that’s how I knew she was done for that moment.

Parents and cargivers can also be proactive and engage their children in discussions by bringing it up themselves. Use every day situations to help you raise important issues like something you saw on T.V. or someone who is pregnant in your life. 

Think of the alternative. What kind of message are you sending to them if you avoid their questions or tell them they are too young or that it’s inappropriate? Will they come to you when they have serious questions? Probably not. Be sure to give them accurate information that clearly expresses what your values are. They are going to learn about it somewhere. Isn’t it best it be you?  Talking often and early with your child will create a strong connection between you and be the best thing you can do to protect them.






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Sexuality Education and Counseling Services
170 Little East Neck Road - Suite 4
West Babylon, NY 11704