Birth Control and Alcohol Tolerance
Can I drink alcohol after taking birth control pill? People who take birth control pills metabolize, or process, alcohol more slowly than those not on the pill. This is because the liver has to metabolize both the alcohol and the hormones in the medication. As a result, alcohol stays in the body for an extended period, and its effects last longer. People also remain intoxicated for longer during their menstrual periods, when the body releases more hormones.
Females typically tend to get intoxicated more quickly than males. This is because their bodies contain less of the enzyme that breaks down alcohol, which is called alcohol dehydrogenase.
Can I drink alcohol after taking birth control pill? Alcohol and Birth Control Pills
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The following forms of contraception will continue to work in the same way if a person drinks alcohol:
- Birth control pills
- Intrauterine devices (IUDs)
- Vaginal rings
- The Depo-Provera shot
With correct use, these methods are 91–99 percent effective. The birth control pill would be 99 percent effective if everyone used it correctly all the time. As they do not, it is about 91 percent effective in reality. If a person drinks so much alcohol that they vomit within 2 hours of taking their pill, it will be less effective. If this happens, they should take another pill as soon as possible and see a doctor for further advice.
Alcohol can also affect a person’s judgment and memory. A person consuming an excessive amount of alcohol may forget to take the pill that day. Or, if they use the progestin-only pill (POP), they may forget to take it within the proper timeframe. The POP is only effective if an individual takes it within the same 3-hour period every day.
Missing a dose can cause ovulation, which is when an ovary releases an egg.
The 3 days on which a female is most fertile are the 2 days leading up to ovulation and the day it occurs. If they have sexual intercourse with a male during the most fertile days and do not use contraception, they have a 27–33 percent chance of becoming pregnant. If a person misses a birth control pill and wishes to avoid unintended pregnancy, they should use condoms or another form of contraception in addition to the pill for 4 weeks.
How Does Alcohol Affect Birth Control?
Birth control (contraception) refers to any medication, device, or method used to prevent pregnancy, including intrauterine devices (IUDs), contraceptive injections, pills, patches, condoms, and other short-term or long-term methods.
Overall, alcohol has not been found to reduce or change the efficacy of birth control; however, it’s important to remember that alcohol can impair a person’s judgment and may alter behavior as a result. This may interfere with any form of birth control that requires consistent compliance and consumption.
For example, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol may make a person forget to take a pill or change a ring. Alcohol use may also lead to the ineffective or inconsistent use of condoms, which not only increases the risk of unplanned pregnancy but also of sexually transmitted infections. Binge drinking problems and risky drinking, according to one study, increased the odds of ineffective contraception (whether it was a condom or a scheduled pill) by 1.7 times.
Another way intoxication may affect birth control is if you vomit after drinking too much within two hours of taking your pill, it may not have the chance to be absorbed by your body, and this may reduce its effectiveness. On the other hand, birth control can affect a person’s tolerance to alcohol. Hormonal birth control can slow down the rate at which alcohol leaves the body and cause a person to feel the effects of alcohol longer. As they continue to drink, alcohol accumulates in the body and increases their blood alcohol level.
In addition, heavy alcohol intake, including binge drinking is associated with a greater risk of developing medical complications affecting the blood, such as blood clots in the lungs or legs. Some women may also be at higher risk for developing a blood clot while using hormonal birth control, so heavy or binge alcohol might increase that risk. Overall, drinking heavily while also taking birth control or other medications should always be discussed with a physician.
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Is It Safe to Drink Alcohol on Birth Control?
In general, it is safe to drink alcohol while on birth control, however, there are some important considerations to be aware of. Alcohol has been found to leave the body slower in women on birth control. For instance, alcohol may interfere with a person’s ability to think clearly and move with coordination, and this may cause a person to misuse or even neglect to use contraceptives such as condoms. This may not only increase their risk of pregnancy but can also increase their chance of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases and infections (STDs/STIs).
If you take birth control pills, drinking too much may cause you to forget or miss taking one of your pills. Though missing one dose may not cause too much of an issue, as long as you take the missed pill as soon as possible, missing multiple doses can cause your birth control to be ineffective and lead to pregnancy. If you become pregnant and continue to drink, you could be placing your unborn child at risk of developing serious medical complications.
Does Alcohol Make Birth Control Less Effective?
Alcohol does not affect the functioning of the birth control pill, however, there are other risks associated with alcohol and birth control. People who are intoxicated may not use condoms or other contraception to protect themselves against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or unintended pregnancy. Others may regret their choice of sexual partner.
The authors of a study from 2015 examined the relationship between alcohol and sexual behavior in adults aged 26, 32, and 38. They found that 13.5 percent of men and 11.9 percent of women aged 38 experienced unwanted outcomes following their behavior while intoxicated. These outcomes included regretting sex, regretting the choice of a sexual partner, and not using contraception.
Alcohol and Birth Control Side Effects
There is no direct interaction between birth control pills and alcohol, and no reduction in the effectiveness of birth control if somebody drinks alcohol.
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Types of Birth Control & Alcohol’s Influence on their Effectiveness
There are many forms of birth control available to help prevent pregnancy, and several are at least 99% effective. Abstinence from sex is the only 100% effective way to ensure that you do not become pregnant. Some of the common types of birth control, along with their rates of effectiveness, include:
More than 99% effective and can stay in place for 3–10 years; alcohol use typically does not reduce effectiveness.
More than 99% effective when used correctly and worked for up to 3 years; alcohol use typically does not reduce effectiveness.
Around 99% effective when used correctly (around 94% typically) and can last up to 3 months; alcohol use typically does not reduce effectiveness.
More than 99% effective when used perfectly (around 91% typical use) and three patches can last up to 3 weeks; alcohol use typically does not reduce the effectiveness but may interfere with weekly compliance.
More than 99% effective when used perfectly (around 91% typical use); alcohol use typically does not reduce the effectiveness but may interfere with compliance as the ring must be removed after three weeks and then a new one inserted the following week.
More than 99% effective when used perfectly (91% typical use); alcohol use typically does not reduce the effectiveness but may interfere with daily compliance.
Is 98% effective when used correctly (82% typical use); alcohol use may reduce effectiveness as there is an increased likelihood of incorrect use or neglecting to use.
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 National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction.
 National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide.