Alcohol and Birth Control Pills

Authored by Pin Ng

Edited by Hugh Soames

Reviewed by Dr Ruth Arenas

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Birth Control and Alcohol

 

Birth control and alcohol have been a concern for couples the world over ever since the birth control pill was introduced back in the 1960’s.  Here we are going to clearly answer the most pressing issues to do with birth control pills and alcohol so you can make decisions about your circumstances with confidence.

 

Does Alcohol Affect the Birth Control Pill?

 

The simple answer is No.  You can drink alcohol while on Birth Control and the alcohol itself does not impact the way birth control works within your body11.K. S. INGERSOLL, S. D. CEPERICH, M. D. NETTLEMAN and B. A. JOHNSON, Risk drinking and contraception effectiveness among college women – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4148693/.

 

Alcohol does not cancel out birth control nor does alcohol make birth control less effective. It is also ok to take birth control with alcohol in your system and it is better to do this and have your birth control pill on time than to wait until any alcohol has left your system to then take your birth control pill late.  Always take your birth control pill on time, whether you are drinking alcohol or not.

 

The simple answer most people are looking for to relieve their concerns is this:

 

Yes, you can drink alcohol while taking birth control.  Drinking on birth control is absolutely ok, women have been doing this for decades.  It does not impact the effectiveness of your birth control pill.

 

Even though Alcohol does not cancel out or decrease the effectiveness of your birth control there are other issues to consider before drinking on birth control22.H. Mans, Use of oral contraceptives in relation to dietary habits and alcohol consumption – ScienceDirect, Use of oral contraceptives in relation to dietary habits and alcohol consumption – ScienceDirect.; Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/001078249090100A?showall%3Dtrue.

 

Risks of Drinking on Birth Control Pills

 

1 – Forgetting to take Birth Control

 

Birth control needs to be taken at the same time each day to be effective.  Drinking is one of the most common reasons women cite for forgetting to take Birth Control.  If you forget to take your Birth Control due to drinking alcohol or any other reason, it increases the risk that the birth control will be ineffective in preventing pregnancy. If this has happened to you please consult your physician or pharmacist and use additional protection against pregnancy if needed.

 

2 – Not taking Birth Control on Time

 

This is a similar problem to forgetting to take your Birth Control Pills.  To be effective your pills need to be taken at the same time each day.  Alcohol is the main reason women give for being late taking their birth control.  Taking Birth Control at different times does reduce the effectiveness of the pill.  You will need to seek medical advice on this and take extra precautions against pregnancy if required.

 

3 – Throwing up after taking Birth Control Pills

 

This is a big risk when you drink on birth control.  Birth control itself causes nausea in some women.  Alcohol can mean this nausea could lead to a situation where you threw up your birth control pill.  Throwing up your birth control means it is not going to be effective as it is not longer in your body.

 

An idea to manage this is to take your pill at a time where you are unlikely to be consuming alcohol.  This is likely to reduce the chance of throwing up.  If you have thrown up your birth control pill you need to contact your doctor or chemist for advice on what to do and you should take extra precautions to avoid possible pregnancy.

 

Can you take Birth Control with Alcohol?

 

Although you can take your birth control pills with alcohol, it really is not a great idea to take any medications with alcohol and water is usually considered best33.A. Spanel, Ethanol metabolism in men and women.: Journal of Studies on Alcohol: Vol 48, No 4, Journal of Studies on Alcohol.; Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.jsad.com/doi/10.15288/jsa.1987.48.380.  Furthermore, swallowing a pill usually requires a larger than normal gulp, and taking this gulp of alcohol as it can lead to faster intoxication and the potential for the risks mentioned above.  So for your wellbeing, avoid taking your birth control or medications with an alcoholic beverage.

 

If alcohol is the only drink you have available then it is better to take your birth control with it as opposed to not taking your birth control at all.  Perhaps a solution could be to change the time of day you take your birth control to a time you are not usually finding yourself in a situation of drinking alcohol. So if you have no alternative, it is ok to take your birth control with alcohol, but it is not advisable.

 

Changing Birth Control Times

 

Can you change the time you take birth Control?

 

Yes but you need to do this in a very specific way so as to not impact the effectiveness of the birth control44.D. B. Petitti and S. Sidney, Four Decades of Research on Hormonal Contraception – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3108408/.

When changing the regular time of your birth control you need to be very careful that you do not simply change the time you take your birth control pills mid cycle.  This will reduce the effectiveness of the birth control leading to a greater chance of pregnancy. To change the time you take your birth control, do this at the end of your period on the first day of your new cycle.  Then proceed to take your birth control at the same time every day.

 

Alcohol and Plan B

 

Can you drink after taking Plan B?

 

You can but it is not advisable to drink until you are a day or more past the completion of your medication.  You don’t want to risk further nausea nor risk throwing up your medication55.K. S. Hall, K. O. White, N. Reame and C. Westhoff, Studying the Use of Oral Contraception: A Review of Measurement Approaches – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2990281/.  So while it is possible it is strongly not advised.

 

Can I take my Plan B with Alcohol?

 

Numerous women have found themselves needing to take plan b after having unsafe sex while intoxicated.  Even though it is wise to take plan b soon after having unsafe intercourse, it is ok to wait until morning and take Plan b with water when you are in a calmer space.  Plan b can cause nausea and it is not advisable to take this while you are still out or still drinking alcohol.

 

Can I take Plan B with Alcohol still in my system?

 

You can take Plan B with Alcohol still in your system.  Plan B will still work.  However, it is not advisable.  Plan b can make you feel nauseous as can alcohol that remains in your system.  You want to avoid throwing up your Plan B pill if at all possible.  So waiting until morning or a few hours later is a good idea.  Eat a good meal and then take your Plan B.

 

Drinking after taking Plan B and throwing up

 

Again, you can drink alcohol after taking the morning after pill but it is not advisable.  It greatly increases the chances of throwing up.  If You throw up your morning after pill or plan B pill it means it is no longer in your body and it can not be effective.  You will need to consult your doctor or pharmacist for advice on what to do.  Plan b is a strong medication and it is best to not be drinking alcohol with plan b wherever possible66.P. Afre, DEFINE_ME, DEFINE_ME.; Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.contraceptionjournal.org/article/S0010-7824(17)30478-X/fulltext.

 

Throwing up for any reason after taking plan b is a serious problem as the medication or part of the medication may no longer be in your body.  You need to seek Medical Advice on what to do about this in your situation.

 

Birth Control and Alcohol Tolerance

 

Does Birth Control affect your alcohol Tolerance?

 

Although there is no evidence to support Birth control affecting your alcohol tolerance, there are numerous anecdotal stories from women stating that their alcohol tolerance is reduced while on birth control and they report feeling intoxicated more quickly.  The best advice is to always be moderate in your alcohol consumption and to go slowly after starting birth control, or any medication for that matter, to test what, if any, impact it has on your own body.

 

Alcohol and Birth Control Pills & Addiction

 

The above article is for women who do not have an alcohol or Drug addiction.  If you feel you might have an alcohol or drug addiction or long term issues with alcohol that may have caused damage to your body internally, please seek advice from your physician on all matters to do with your birth control and impacts of alcohol in your specific circumstances77.M. Terplan, D. J. Hand, M. Hutchinson, E. Salisbury-Afshar and S. H. Heil, Contraceptive use and method choice among women with opioid and other substance use disorders: A systematic review – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4842019/.

 

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  • 1
    1.K. S. INGERSOLL, S. D. CEPERICH, M. D. NETTLEMAN and B. A. JOHNSON, Risk drinking and contraception effectiveness among college women – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4148693/
  • 2
    2.H. Mans, Use of oral contraceptives in relation to dietary habits and alcohol consumption – ScienceDirect, Use of oral contraceptives in relation to dietary habits and alcohol consumption – ScienceDirect.; Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/001078249090100A?showall%3Dtrue
  • 3
    3.A. Spanel, Ethanol metabolism in men and women.: Journal of Studies on Alcohol: Vol 48, No 4, Journal of Studies on Alcohol.; Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.jsad.com/doi/10.15288/jsa.1987.48.380
  • 4
    4.D. B. Petitti and S. Sidney, Four Decades of Research on Hormonal Contraception – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3108408/
  • 5
    5.K. S. Hall, K. O. White, N. Reame and C. Westhoff, Studying the Use of Oral Contraception: A Review of Measurement Approaches – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2990281/
  • 6
    6.P. Afre, DEFINE_ME, DEFINE_ME.; Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.contraceptionjournal.org/article/S0010-7824(17)30478-X/fulltext
  • 7
    7.M. Terplan, D. J. Hand, M. Hutchinson, E. Salisbury-Afshar and S. H. Heil, Contraceptive use and method choice among women with opioid and other substance use disorders: A systematic review – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4842019/
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