Discover When Taking Oral Contraception May Be Necessary to Prevent Birth Defects

A new study suggests that 40% of women who take medications that can cause birth defects misuse or skip taking their oral contraception pills despite the risk involved. Medications that have been deemed unsafe to take during pregnancy are known as Category X drugs. Examples of these drugs include certain types of statins, acne medications, sedatives, and sleep aids. Scientists from the Medco Research Institute looked at prescription records of 26,136 of its female enrollees, between the ages of 18 and 44 who were prescribed both an oral contraceptive and a Category X drug.

About 60% of the enrollees took the oral contraceptive reliably, filling their prescriptions regularly and having enough on hand to take it 95% of the time. However, 22% only filled their prescriptions often enough to have enough available 80 to 94% of the time and the other 19% appeared to have enough filled to have the contraception less than 80% of the time. Medco stated that it received permission from its clients to use to use the data and analyzed the data without names included.

According to the study, which was published in the October issue of the American Journal of Medicine, 6 percent of U.S. pregnancies occur among women taking Category X medications that are known to cause birth defects. The authors of the study assert that women taking these medications may not be aware of the risks involved in becoming pregnant. The study's data showed that certain group of women, such as women taking large number of different prescription medications, those in certain minority groups, and women with lower levels of education were less likely to properly take their contraception on a regular basis.

 According to lead author, Amy Steinkeller, these women may not understand that birth control must be taken "on a nearly perfect, consistent basis" and may not be being effectively counseled by their physician or pharmacist. Steinkeller suggested in a recent press release that physicians and pharmacists may feel "awkward" or uncomfortable discussing the topic with those being prescribed both an oral contraceptive and a Category X medication.

Medco's research findings are extremely important and show that women taking Category X medications and oral contraceptives must be better educated as to the risks involved in becoming pregnant while on these medications. Doctors and pharmacists must do their jobs and counsel these patients adequately, and not allow any "awkward" feelings they may have about the subject matter get in the way of doing their job. All women taking oral contraception should try take the medication as prescribed; I have a feeling that the most difficult part of oral contraception is remembering to take it. If you are taking an oral contraceptive, try setting an alarm on your cell phone for the same time every day to remind you to take your medication or post a note somewhere you will notice such as by your front door or on the refrigerator. If you have been prescribed any type of medication by your doctor, but are not sure if it is a Category X drug, consult him or her immediately and find out whether you should start taking oral contraception.

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