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Alcohol and Birth Control Pills

Alcohol and Birth Control Pills

Authored by Pin Ng PhD

Reviewed by Michael Por, MD

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.  The alcohol itself does not impact the way birth control works within your body.1https://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.  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 control.2https://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.3https://academic.oup.com/ije/article/45/5/1445/2450920   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.  Water is usually considered best.4https://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.  It is generally not necessary.

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 control.5https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3108408/

When changing the regular time of your birth control you need to be very careful.

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 medication.6https://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?

This is not a great idea.  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 possible.7https://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 circumstances.8https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4842019/

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References: Alcohol and Birth Control Pills

  1. Archer DF, Cullings V, Creasy GW, Fisher AC. The impact of improved compliance with a weekly contraceptive transdermal system (Ortho Evra) on contraceptive efficacy. Contraception. 2004;69:189–195. [PubMed] []
  2. Bachman JG, Johnston LD, O’Malley P, Schulenberg J. Transitions in drug use during late adolescence and young adulthood. In: Graber JA, Brooks-Gunn J, Petersen AC, editors. Transitions through adolescence: Interpersonal domains and context. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum; 1996. pp. 111–140. []
  3. Dunn MS, Bartee RT, Perko MA. Self-reported alcohol use and behaviors of adolescents. Psychological Reports. 2003;92:339–348. [PubMed] []
  4. Ketcham PL. The impact of Alcohol and Birth Control Pills on binge drinking and behavioral consequences. Dissertation Abstracts International. 1999;59(7-B):3380. []
  5. NIAAA. NIAAA Council approves definition of binge drinking. NIAAA Newsletter. 2004 Winter;(3):3. []
  6. Simon DA, Roach JP, Dimitrievich K. Assessment of knowledge and practice of high risk sexual behavior at a private Midwestern university. South Dakota Journal of Medicine. 2003;56:265–269. [PubMed] []
  7. Wechsler H, Lee H, Lee JE, Kuo M, Selbring M, Nelson TF. Trends in college binge drinking during a period of increased prevention efforts. Findings from 4 Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study surveys: 1993–2001. Journal of American College Health. 2002;50:203–217. [PubMed] []
  8. Shiono PH, Harlap S, Ramcharan S, Berendes H, Gupta S, Pellegrin F. Use of contraceptives prior to and after conception and exposure to other fetal hazards. Contraception. 1979 Aug;20(2):105–20. [PubMed] []
  9. Petitti DB, Siscovick DS, Sidney S, et al. Norplant implants and cardiovascular disease. Contraception. 1998 May;57(5):361–2. [PubMed] []
  10. Bradley DD, Wingerd J, Petitti DB, Krauss RM, Ramcharan S. Serum Alcohol and Birth Control Pills in women using oral contraceptives, estrogens and progestins. N Engl J Med. 1978 Jul 6;299(1):17–20. [PubMed] []
  11. Petitti DB. Safety of birth control pills. In: Samuels SE, Smith MD, editors. The Pill: from prescription to over the counter. Menlo Park (CA): The Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation; 1994. pp. 77–116. p. []
  12. Elko A, Jansson LM. Contraception in drug-dependent women: a novel approach. Soc Work Ment Health. 2011;9:445–455. []
  13. Weber AE, Tyndall MW, Spittal PM, et al. High pregnancy rates and reproductive health indicators among female injection-drug users in Vancouver, Canada. Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2003;8(1):52–58. [PubMed] []
  • The nicotine buzz or high is most intense for new smokers, and then it drops away quickly.  This often leaves smokers “chasing the buzz”, within months of starting smoking. Once over the initial stage a nicotine buzz might only last a few minutes or up to an hour in someone taking much more nicotine than they normally do.

  • Following Kuznetsov’s ban by the IIHF, the NHL released a statement stating, “cocaine is not considered a performance enhancing drug and is therefore not a Prohibited Substance under the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program”. The statement released by the NHL shows that cocaine isn’t seen as a dangerous drug to the league’s nor players’ well-being.

  • Clients attend 15 sessions of rTMS treatment therapy. Sessions take place over the course of a three-week timeframe with clients participating in five rTMS treatments per week. The therapy also improves a patient’s depression and mood. Patients can undergo further maintenance sessions each month to continue their recovery from cocaine addiction and create long-lasting effects.

  • Alcohol and Birth Control Pills
    Alcohol and Birth Control Pills

    You can drink alcohol while on Birth Control. The alcohol itself does not impact the way birth control works within your body. 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. 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

  • Becoming aware of one’s mortality and the realization that death could occur due to health reasons can cause anxiety in a person. People in their 40s and 50s begin to look back on their lives and review the choices they made. A person’s appearance in midlife can also cause distress as they grow unhappy with the way they now look

  • A patient undergoing a rapid detox treatment program is put under anesthesia for up to six hours. During this time, an opioid antagonist drug such as naltrexone is used to remove the opioid drugs from the patient’s body. Drugs such as heroin and prescription pain medication can removed from the body during rapid detox.

  • Striving for academic success can build anxiety in teenage students. As a young person moves through high school, the pressure to do well increases. They may want to obtain a university scholarship, certain test score to get into a prestigious university, or do well on an interview to land an internship. The pressure to achieve these items can build anxiety

  • A rehabilitation program, or rehab for short, is a supervised form of treatment that is designed to end a person’s drug and/or alcohol addiction. Rehabs traditionally focus on helping an individual gain help from drugs and alcohol; however, more programs have been created to help people with a variety of vices.

  • Once you choose a rehab, you need to choose a start date. Rehab isn’t a holiday, so starting as soon as possible is the ideal way to get help. After selecting your start date, communicate with the residential rehab center to find out what you need – or don’t need – to bring with you.

  • Families may have to deal with a variety of issues as their children grow up. However, teens challenging their parents’ rules are different than in young people dealing with oppositional defiant disorder. The biggest differences between the two areas lies in the frequency, persistence, and prevalence of defiance through different situations.

  • Sober companions can be hired to help you stay on the straight and narrow. A sober companion often knows ways to keep you from relapsing. Oftentimes, sober companions are former active addicts. They now want to help others gain freedom from addiction on a professional full-time basis.

  • Dialectical behavior therapy, also known by the acronym DBT, is a therapeutic approach that helps individuals deal with various issues from mental health disorders to addiction.

Summary
Alcohol and Birth Control Pills
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Alcohol and Birth Control Pills
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You can drink alcohol while on Birth Control.  The alcohol itself does not impact the way birth control works within your body. 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.  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.
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