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Birth Control And Alcohol: Understanding The Risks

Birth Control And Alcohol: Understanding The Risks

Imagine this: You routinely take your birth control pill right after dinner to help you remember to take it. You’ve gone out to dinner tonight with the girls, and as you’re digging in your purse to grab your pill before you forget to take it, your friend suggests you all hit a bar. You haven’t been to a bar since you started on the pill -- can you drink right after taking an oral contraceptive?

For the most part, consuming alcohol won’t affect your birth control. However, there are a handful of specific risks of alcohol that you should be aware of if you take the pill as your hormonal contraceptive of choice. 

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about birth control and alcohol to help you understand the risks. Are you ready? Let’s dive in!

How Alcohol Can Affect Your Birth Control

To this day, there is no known link between alcohol and the effectiveness of birth control. This means you can have a cocktail without worrying about the pill becoming less effective. However, despite this, it is possible for booze to affect the way you use the pill, making it less likely to fully protect you from pregnancy. Here’s how:

  • Forgetting to take your birth control. If you have been drinking, you just might forget to take your birth control at the correct time. This is more of a concern if you are on the pill, which loses its efficacy if you don’t take it at the same exact time every single day. For instance, the progestin-only pills, in particular, must be taken within the same three-hour window every day to provide pregnancy protection. 
  • Becoming more intoxicated than normal. Believe it or not, birth control hormones can change the rate at which your body metabolizes alcohol. Why? Because your faithful liver is working in overdrive to process both the hormones and the alcohol. As a result, you might become drunk much faster and remain so longer than you would normally, which could ultimately increase your chances of forgetting to take your birth control or using protection during sex. 
  • Vomiting. If you happen to drink so much to the point that you become sick, your birth control might not work. This is most likely to happen if you vomit within two hours of taking the pill -- before your body has had a chance to really absorb the necessary hormones to prevent ovulation and fertilization. 

If you are going out for a night with the girls, to a party, or to any other social event at which you think you’ll be putting back the cocktails, it’s a good idea to set a reminder on your phone to help take your birth control at the appropriate time. 

If you are worried about forgetting your pill, consider having a backup form of contraception ready. Also, it’s important to let your partner know that you would prefer to use a condom or some other form of birth control that night -- this way, you will still be protected even if you forget your birth control pill. 

Alcohol and Safe Sex 

Finally, it is really easy to forget the importance of safe sex when you have been drinking booze all night. While the pill will protect you from unintended pregnancy when used correctly, it doesn’t provide any kind of protection from sexually transmitted infections.

If you meet a lovely person while you’re out with your squad or in any other situation in which you have been drinking alcohol and decide to take it their place, it’s of the utmost importance to make sure you are protected. Keeping a condom in your handbag is an easy way to have one ready when the moment is right. 

Tips for Drinking Alcohol While Using Birth Control

While alcohol can most definitely affect your birth control habits, it doesn’t need to -- use the following tips below to keep yourself protected from unintended pregnancy while you enjoy a night out with the girls:

  • Carry backup birth control if needed. If by accident, you happen to miss taking your birth control pill, it’s certainly not the end of the world, but there is a slight risk you could begin ovulating. If this happens, be sure to use a barrier protection method -- such as a condom -- during sex. It’s also a good idea to practice safe external personal hygiene afterward with the Mini Do It All Wipes from Love Wellness.

    Made with ingredients like organic coconut oil, organic aloe vera, and organic chamomile extract, these wipes are oh-so-soft and super gentle to use on your delicate parts. 
  • Or, simply don’t have sex. A surefire way to avoid pregnancy when you’ve been drinking is simply by not engaging in sexual activity. If you accidentally forget to take your birth control pill, just refrain from doing the deed and spend the night dancing with your bestie instead. 
  • Set reminders to take your pill. Set a daily alarm reminding you to take your birth control pill at the appropriate time. This can be particularly useful if you typically take your pill in the AM and don’t want to risk sleeping in too late -- which we are all definitely guilty of from time to time!
  • Take your pill in the middle of the day. If you drink pretty regularly and sleep in as a result, it might be a good idea to change the time you take your birth control pill to midday to help avoid missing any doses due to a pesky hangover or sleepiness. 
  • Be open with your partner. If you are worried about alcohol affecting your birth control’s effectiveness, simply let your partner know. Explain to them that you would much rather use a condom after a night of drinking just in case your pill isn’t 100 percent effective. As we mentioned a little earlier, if you forget to take your progestin-only pill by even a measly three hours, it’s of the utmost importance to use a backup form of contraception for the next two days. Talk to your partner, voice your concerns, and stay protected. 
  • Consider an alternative form of birth control. Did you know that there are a ton of birth control options? Rather than remembering to take a pill every day, you can get an IUD, implant, or even Depo-Provera. These popular contraceptive options don’t need to be taken daily, meaning they could be a much better option if you tend to drink alcohol frequently and forget to take your daily pill. Make an appointment with your doc and ask to hear your options. 
  • Avoid drinking in excess. Drinking excessively may cause you to get sick and vomit, making your birth control less effective if you happened to take it right before drinking. Drinking in excess can also increase your chance of feeling hungover the next day, which can cause you to forget your pill. The best way to avoid these problems is to limit your alcohol consumption. Know your limits and drink responsibly to avoid an unpleasant morning after a night out on the town.

While we don’t suggest drinking to excess every night, an occasional glass of wine, beer, or cocktail is unlikely to cause an issue with your birth control. However, if you are worried, our tips above can help. Be smart, plan ahead, and stay safe!

Bottom Line

At the end of the day, drinking booze won’t affect the effectiveness of your birth control, but it can affect your birth control habits. For instance, one-too-many cocktails just might make your memory a little fuzzy, causing you to skip your evening dose. 

Show your body some self-love and keep the alcohol down to a minimum. You can even take your birth control at the same time every day and take a multivitamin like Daily Love from Love Wellness to help you remember to take it. 

Check out Love Wellness today and get the health you deserve with results you can actually feel. For all of your health and wellness needs, Love Wellness has your back!  

 

Sources:

10 Best Jello Shot Recipes From Your Favorite Cocktails

Minipill (progestin-only birth control pill) | Mayo Clinic

Urinary tract infection (UTI) - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

Yeast infection (vaginal) - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

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