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Can Antibiotics Delay Ovulation?


Antibiotics are not generally known to delay ovulation, but other medications can.

More Info: Antibiotics can interact with other medications but research does not indicate that their use has a direct impact on female ovulation.  If menstruation is delayed for a woman on antibiotics, it is more likely the result of natural causes, the condition that the antibiotic is treating, or stress on the body from the condition.  A particular antibiotic IS known to interact with birth control pills, in some cases rendering them ineffective, and in these cases, late menstruation could mean a possible pregnancy. [1]

Antibiotics and Oral Contraceptives

The Council on Scientific Affairs from the American Medical Association evaluated all the current research on possible drug interactions with antibiotics and oral contraceptives and concluded that most antibiotics do not interfere with the effectiveness of birth control with the exception of Rifampin.  They note however, that on an individual basis, some women are affected by tetracycline and penicillin derivatives. [2]

Medications That Affect Ovulation and Fertility

According to NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 11, there is evidence that certain drugs do interact with ovulation in both male and female fertility in general.  Specifically, research has indicated that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs inhibit ovulation.

Additional research has indicated that women who had used tranquilizers, antidepressants, asthma medication, or thyroid replacement hormones report an elevated risk of anovulatory infertility, which is a menstrual cycle in which ovulation does not occur. Further cytotoxic drugs, such as those used in chemotherapy, can cause ovarian failure.

Anti-inflammatory drugs such as those used for arthritic conditions may also affect conception. [3]

Recreational Drugs That Affect Ovulation and Fertility

Marijuana use has been directly linked to female infertility due to ovulatory abnormalities. For men, marijuana use can mean lower sperm quality and motility, and sperm abnormalities.  [4] [5]

Antibiotics and Male Fertility

Though it may not be clear exactly how antibiotics interact with ovulation, their use has been directly linked to male fertility.  Prescription drugs and more specifically long-term use of some antibiotics can adversely affect semen quality and lower sperm count. The use of beta-blockers, such as those prescribed for high blood pressure can lead to impotence. [6]


[1] HealthTap-Answers from Doctors
Can Antibiotics Delay Your Period?

[2] Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Dickinson BD
Drug interactions between oral contraceptives and antibiotics
2001; Volume: 98; No: 5 pt1; Pages: 853-860


[3][6] Fertility: Assessment and Treatment for People with Fertility Problems.

NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 11.

National Collaborating Centre for Women’s and Children’s Health (UK).

London (UK): RCOG Press; 2004 Feb.

[4] University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute
Marijuana and Reproduction

[5] Journal of Epidemiology; Mueller BA
Recreational drug use and the risk of primary infertility
1990; Volume: 1; No: 3; Pages 195-200


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