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title pic Are Your Antidepressants Undermining Your Birth Control?

Posted by Hilary Parker on June 13, 2011

Are Your Antidepressants Undermining Your Birth Control?

Ever Googled “antidepressants and pregnancy?” Bet you were looking for information on how antidepressants in general or a specific drug might impact the health of your baby. But you probably didn’t come across this little tidbit: Many anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants — including Prozac, Celexa and Zoloft — may interfere with birth control methods which rely on estrogen.

This news, according to Kent Holtorf, M.D., medical director of the Holtorf Medical Group, gives the antidepressants and pregnancy debate more urgency. Even if a woman is actively preventing pregnancy, she needs to be informed about the potential dangers antidepressants pose — even to the health of her unplanned unborn child — and that taking these drugs may actually increase her chances of becoming pregnant.

Holtorf told Women’s Health magazine that any woman taking prescription drugs simultaneously with an estrogen-based birth control should review her prescriptions with her doctor to ensure none is undermining her family planning needs.

What’s more, anti-anxiety medication and antidepressants are far from alone on the list of drugs that can interfere with a woman’s birth control. Others on his watch list include the anti-convulsant and migraine-treating medication Topamax; readers of this blog know the FDA recently warned Topamax increases the risk of cleft palate birth defects when taken by pregnant women.

Even natural supplements get a wary look from the doctor. The supplements and their labels are not standardized, so women likely won’t get the drug interaction information they need before it’s too late. Holtorf specifically mentioned St. John’s Wort, which is used to treat depression, and soy-based products.

The bottom line is this: Even if you’re not planning to become a parent yet (or yet again), it’s crucial that you understand everything about the drugs you’re taking — how they interact with your body’s chemistry as well as with the other drugs you have in your system. Holtorf recommends using two methods of pregnancy prevention or taking a different dose of the birth control medication based on your individual needs.

All the more reason to have a close, comfortable relationship with your primary care physician and OB/GYN.

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