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Does Alcohol Make The Pill Less Effective?

by | Nov 10, 2021 | Sexual & Reproductive Health

When used correctly, the pill is effective 99.7% of the time. When we throw human error into the mix, this percentage decreases to around the 93% mark. Human error is nothing to be ashamed of – we’re all guilty of letting certain things slide every now and then. Perhaps you took your daily pill at a different time of the day, skipped a day altogether, or unknowingly commenced a course of medication you weren’t aware could alter the effectiveness of the pill. All fair. But, does alcohol consumption make birth control less effective?

Straight to the point; there is no known link between alcohol use and the effectiveness of birth control. So, you can enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or a few margis with the girls and not stress about the pill giving you the cold shoulder. The caveat here, is that there’s a chance alcohol can affect behaviours linked to how you use the pill, resulting in birth control failure.

Here’s how:

  • Heavy or rapid intoxication: When you sign up to your daily dose of pregnancy prevention via oral contraceptive pill, the hormones in the pill can alter the rate at which your body metabolises alcohol. This could lead to a quicker intoxication that lasts longer than you expected it to, increasing your chance of forgetting to take your pill for that 24-hour period.
  • The dreaded hangover: When you drink heavily, you put yourself at risk of forgetting to take your pill at the correct time. In the case of the oral contraceptive pill, efficacy decreases when the pill isn’t taken at the same time every day.
  • Vomiting: When you drink so much alcohol that it causes you to purge, the birth control pill could lose efficacy. This is more likely to occur if you vomit within a few hours of taking the pill before the body has time to properly absorb the hormones that prevent ovulation.

So, how can you best prevent changes in the effectiveness of the birth control plan you’re on?

  • Plan ahead: If you believe your birth control may be compromised when drinking, pop a few condoms in your purse as a back-up method and let your partner know.
  • Set a reminder alert to take your pill in your phone: Make sure the alarm is at a volume that is likely to affect your hungover state. Before leaving home, place a bottle of water and your packet of pills on your bedside table for easy access the next day when you really cannot be effed getting out of bed.
  • Trial a different time of the day: If the morning or evening timeslot just isn’t aligning with your social life, set your pill schedule to the middle of the day when you’re less likely to be consuming alcohol.
  • Keep back-up contraception on standby: If you skip a pill, there’s a chance your body could begin ovulating, so always keep a few condoms within arm’s reach out your bed.
  • Take an extra pill if you vomit: If you land at the stage where you’re purging within 2-hours of taking a pill, take a second pill immediately.

Of course, if you’ve engaged in sex following a night out on the juice and you’re worried the efficacy of the pill has been compromised, the morning after pill is always an option. The good news is that Youly can organise safe, convenient, same-day delivery to women in Australia. Find out if this is a suitable option for you, here.


This blog is designed to be informative and educational. It is not intended to provide specific medical advice or replace advice from your medical practitioner.

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