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Alcohol and Birth Control Pills

The relation between alcohol and birth control pills is a tricky one. Does alcohol affect the working of contraceptive pills? This question has perhaps rendered some women sleepless, when they relished some good amount of alcohol while on pills. This HerHaleness article will help clear all your doubts.
HerHaleness Staff
You may have heard of a friend talking about birth control pills losing their effectiveness after one drinks alcohol. This worries you, because though you are completely responsible about taking your birth control pills religiously, you would not want to miss out on the fun with alcohol over a weekend party. Alcohol and birth control pills become a bit difficult to juggle and one is worried thinking about chances of getting pregnant while on pill. Let us find out in the following article, if taking birth control pills with alcohol decreases the effectiveness of the pills.
Are birth control pills less effective after drinking alcohol?
Alcohol does not change or affect birth control pills in any way. This means, contraceptive pills are just as effective as they need to be, even if one drinks alcohol. Thus, a bottle or two of beer over the weekend won't hurt much, if you exert some caution.
Are birth control pills impacted by alcohol in any way?
There is always another side to a coin. Even though birth control pills are not chemically affected by alcohol, they have implications biologically. Contraceptive pills affect the liver's ability to metabolize ethanol present in alcohol. Thus, it takes time for the ethanol to be removed from the body and thus, a woman becomes highly intoxicated. So, even if you drink a little, you may get drunk quicker. Also, it may so happen due to the intoxication that one is not able to remember to take her pills on time or take the pills later on. Thus, the birth control effectiveness reduces if it is not taken around the same time every day. This is true especially in case of progestin-only pills. The estrogen-progesterone pills are not that time-sensitive and can be taken as soon as one remembers she has missed a dose. This delay due to intoxication may increase the risk of getting pregnant, even when on birth control pills.
Next, possible effect of drinking excessive alcohol on the body is to vomit. If the body throws up soon after a woman has taken her pill, it will be as good as missing a dose. This is because all the stomach contents will be emptied along with the contraceptive pill. There is no way one can calculate the 'safe period' that will help make sure the pill remains in one's system. This depends on the individual metabolism and food eaten that day. So, if you throw up after drinking alcohol, there is no way to conclude if it will be safe to have sexual interactions that night. Apart from these biological interactions, one may even forget putting on condoms. This is because the intoxication levels are so high, that one does not remember to play safe. It not only puts one at risk of pregnancy, but also contracting sexually transmitted diseases, in case of an unknown partner.
So, if you wish to drink and are worried about birth control interactions, speak to your doctor. S/he may be able to guide you regarding other birth control methods that do not put you at risk. It is always better to have self-control while drinking, especially when you feel you may become intoxicated soon enough. Taking risks is not always a good idea, especially when it comes to prevention of pregnancy. So, think before you drink, especially when you are on birth control pills.