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Can Alcohol Affect Birth Control?

Can Alcohol Affect Birth Control?

There are many types of birth control, from pills and patches to condoms and other family planning. For individuals who are also going through alcohol detox, there is cause for concern.

Today’s blog will focus on birth control and how it can affect both men and women on birth control.


Does Alcohol Affect Birth Control?

The short answer is no; however, there are some alcohol-related risks. The main issue is with the impact alcohol has on someone’s behavior and judgment. For those taking birth control, it requires regular compliance, like taking a daily pill or changing patches or rings. Being hungover or drunk can affect that, and unwanted pregnancy can occur. If someone doesn’t know they’re pregnant and still drinks alcohol, it can affect the unborn child and result in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. 


A study published by the National Institutes of Health found that drinking increased the odds of contraception failure (either by condom or pill) by 1.7 times. Alcohol use also increased the risk of both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STIs). In the same study mentioned above, women who were found to have used condoms ineffectively reported a higher number of binge drinking than their peers. If vomiting occurs shortly after taking the pill from a night of drinking, it can increase the risk of pregnancy. Vomiting within two hours of taking the pill may put a woman at increased risk.


How Birth Control Affects the Response to Alcohol

Some women on birth control may eliminate alcohol more slowly, feeling the intoxicating effects longer. Since the liver takes on the work of metabolizing both, the process gets slowed down. A person’s liver can process approximately one standard drink an hour, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The standard used as a metric for safe levels for drinking is called blood alcohol concentration or BAC. A standard drink has about 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol. 


BAC levels on standard drinks include:

  • 12 oz of beer, or one bottle at 5 percent alcohol
  • 8 oz of malt liquor at 7 percent alcohol
  • 5 oz of wine at 12 percent alcohol
  • 15 oz of hard liquor, or one-shot, at 40 percent of alcohol


A person’s BAC level is not just affected by the amount of alcohol consumption, but by other factors like gender, an individual’s weights, the pattern of drinking, and genetics.


Effects of High BAC Levels

The side effects and impairments from an increase in BAC levels include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Slowed reflexes and reaction time
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of physical coordination
  • Memory trouble, blackouts, and memory loss
  • Passing out
  • Heartbeat, breathing, and changes in blood pressure


Protect Yourself From Pregnancy

If you plan on drinking, you should plan ahead of time for any situation that can occur, so you stay protected from unwanted pregnancy. Also, consider the time of day you take the pill. If you have a habit of sleeping late, take the pill at night. If you tend to drink mainly at night, take it earlier. The important thing to remember is no birth control is 100 percent effective, and if you plan on drinking alcohol, be responsible.


For Help to Quit Drinking, Contact Ardu Recovery Center

If you’re at a crossroads in your life or have a loved one struggling with addiction, we invite you to contact Ardu Recovery Center today. Located in Provo, Utah, our center employs doctors, nurses, counselors, nutritionists, and other professionals to help in your quest to overcome your addiction to alcohol. We customize treatment programs that fit your comfort level and situation. Call us to reclaim your life from addiction.