Alcohol and Birth Control: What Every Woman Needs to Know

Alcohol and Birth ControlBe it a romantic dinner along with wine or a wild party night that ends in a fling, whether it’s good or bad, sex and alcohol often go hand in hand with one another. Fortunately, drinking alcohol doesn’t change the way your method of birth control works. But, if your birth control relies on action or memory; for instance, you have to use a condom while having sex or take a birth control pill at a particular time, then you have to plan ahead when drinking.

If you are drinking alcohol and using the following types of methods of birth control correctly, then the alcohol will not affect them:

  • Oral contraceptive pills (birth control pills)
  • Depo-Provera shots
  • Condoms
  • Morning after pills (emergency contraceptives)
  • IUDs (intrauterine devices)
  • Implants
  • Vaginal rings
  • Patches 

How can alcohol affect birth control?

Though alcohol doesn’t produce an effect on the workings of your contraception method directly, it may indirectly increase the risk of failure of birth control methods. Alcohol can impact your judgment and behavior and this can result in reducing the effectiveness of birth control. In case you become intoxicated by drinking heavily, the chances of forgetting to take the pill on time increases. This becomes more likely if you drink before the time you would normally take the pill. If you typically take the pill in the morning and you drank alcohol the previous night, it is possible that you might sleep through that normal time. It’s important to remember that  the effectiveness of the pill is affected by the time at which you ingest it. 

Drinking alcohol may also make you more prone to get sick. If you fall sick after drinking alcohol and vomit or throw up within one to two hours of consuming the pill, then your body may not absorb it. This situation is the same as not taking a pill and it may increase your chances of ovulation (release of an egg). 

Do birth control methods affect alcohol tolerance?

Women who take oral contraceptives process or metabolize alcohol more slowly in comparison to women who don’t take the pill. This is because their liver has to process both the hormones present in the pill and the alcohol. Furthermore, the hormones present in contraceptives may affect the water distribution in your body and this may change the rate of elimination of the alcohol you consume. Thus, alcohol may remain in your body for a longer duration and its effects may also last longer. 

This can result in higher levels of blood alcohol and may also increase your intoxication level if  you are taking the birth control pill along with drinking alcohol. To put it differently, you can become intoxicated easily and more quickly in comparison to the times when you didn’t take the birth control pill. This makes it more likely to miss a dose or forget to use other kinds of protection while having sex. 

You are also more likely to remain intoxicated due to alcohol for a longer duration during your periods as your body releases a greater amount of hormones during this time. 

Furthermore, when you drink alcohol, it is difficult to correctly use a condom, even if you remember to use one. 

Other risks of drinking alcohol

There are other risks of drinking excessive quantities of alcohol, particularly concerning your sexual behavior. 

Dangerous sexual behavior

After drinking alcohol you may become more careless; thereby, not responsibly using birth control. In a study, it was found that binge drinking or risky drinking in young women almost doubled the chances of contraception becoming ineffective. People who get intoxicated after drinking alcohol are less likely to use condoms and other contraceptives to prevent STIs (sexually transmitted infections) or unwanted pregnancy. There are also chances of regretting your choice of partner to have sex. 

Sexual assault

A link exists between sexual assault and alcohol use. According to a publication by the NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) about half of the individuals who have suffered a sexual assault state that they were drunk or under the influence of alcohol during the sexual assault. It is important to note here that, though someone may have been drinking before a person sexually assaulted them, they are not to blame in any way. The perpetrator is always at fault. 

Planning for the future

If you are taking oral contraceptives and know about drinking in advance then you should plan ahead of time. You may:

  • Set an alarm on your phone to remind yourselves to take your medicine on time.
  • Take your pill during the middle of the day, when there are fewer chances of drinking alcohol. This also increases your chances of being awake to take the pill even if you had alcohol the previous night. 
  • Carry backup birth control such as spermicide and condom with you. You must always use a barrier method of birth control (for instance condoms) to protect yourself from STIs unless you and your partner are in a faithful and long-term relationship. 
  • Choose a type of birth control that is low-maintenance, i.e., you get it and then forget it. Some of these are IUD (a tiny device that your healthcare provider places in the uterus and it can effectively provide protection from unwanted pregnancy for three to 10 years) and implant (a small rod, the size of a matchstick, which releases hormones; your healthcare provider inserts it beneath your arm skin and is effective for up to three years). 

 

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Why IUDs Are Considered the Best Birth Control Method

IUDs or intrauterine devices are widely considered the best birth control method for women. IUDs offer several benefits to women for avoiding pregnancy. Unlike most other contraceptive methods, IUDs are safer, easier to use, and are more effective than other birth control methods.

Here is a glimpse into why IUDs are considered the best birth control method and answers to frequently asked questions:IUD

What are IUDs?

An IUD is a tiny device, which is inserted into the uterus to avoid conception in women. It is a simple, small, T-shaped device that sits within the uterus and releases hormones that help in the prevention of pregnancy.

It takes just a few minutes for the insertion of an IUD. It cannot be seen or felt once it is in place.

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions About IUDS:

What are the types of IUDs?

IUDs are typically categorized as hormonal or non-hormonal. Hormonal IUDs work by releasing a small amount of the hormone called progestin into the uterus.

An IUD releases the hormone slowly and continuously to ensure a longer-lasting contraceptive effect. It helps to prevent pregnancy by thickening the mucus in the cervix, thereby preventing sperm from reaching an egg for fertilization to occur.

Hormonal IUDs also prevent pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation, the process of releasing an egg from the uterus. As a result, the next step of fertilization of the egg does not occur, thus preventing conception.

Non-hormonal or copper IUDs, just as the name suggests, are wrapped in copper. This metal is safe for the uterus while being toxic to sperm. It causes destruction of sperm, preventing them from reaching the egg to cause fertilization.

The mechanisms of action of both these types of IUDs are based on the physiological processes involved in fertilization. IUDs are designed to ensure there is no damage to the uterus or endometrium, which is why they are considered the best birth control method.

How effective are IUDs for preventing pregnancy?

One of the reasons why IUDs are so popular is their high level of efficacy. They have a success rate of nearly 99% when it comes to avoiding conception. Once an IUD is inserted, women can feel relaxed and need not worry about an unplanned pregnancy.

How long does an IUD remain effective?

The duration for which an IUD is effective can vary from 3 years to 12 years and varies depending on the brand and the type of IUD.

Most hormonal IUDs work for about 3 to 6 years, while the non-hormonal IUDs have a longer period of action and may last up to 12 years. This is one of the reasons why women choose IUDs as a method of contraception. The longer lasting action of these devices allows them the freedom they often miss out on while taking daily oral contraceptive pills.

Women can also choose to remove the IUD at any time before its expiry date if they want to get pregnant or switch to another method of birth control.

How long does it take to insert the IUD?

Insertion of an IUD takes just a few minutes. The procedure can be performed in the physician’s clinic and needs no hospitalization. It is a non-invasive procedure.

Women can continue with their daily routine immediately after the insertion. Similarly, even the removal of the IUD can be performed within a few minutes. This offers great convenience to women who lead a busy lifestyle.

Does IUD insertion involve pain?

Women may experience a mild pinching sensation when the physician holds the cervix with the help of equipment before inserting the IUD. The pain caused due to the same is mild and only lasts for a few seconds after the cervix is released. Barring this, the procedure should not cause any major discomfort.

How long does it take for an IUD to be effective?

Most hormonal IUDs are effective immediately when they are inserted within the first 7 days of the start of a menstrual period. Otherwise, it may take about 7 days for them to be effective after insertion. The non-hormonal copper IUDs are effective immediately after they are inserted.

Does an IUD interfere with the future fertility of a woman?

No. IUDs can affect a woman’s chances of getting pregnant only as long as they are within the uterus. Once removed, the woman can conceive within the next one to two months, provided she does not suffer from any other issue linked to infertility.

This offers great convenience to women who would like to avoid pregnancy for a few years. They can get it removed at any time if they wish to start a family.

Are IUDs safe?

Yes. IUDs are extremely safe. Women can choose a hormonal IUD or copper IUD depending on their preferences and the pros and cons of each.

IUDs are safer than most other methods of contraception as they do not cause any serious adverse effects on the normal physiological processes occurring in the body.

In some cases, women may develop side effects like excessive vaginal bleeding, and abdominal pain.

How do you get an IUD?

IUDs may easily be purchased at a local pharmacy. IUDs are also available at many women’s health clinics. Women can visit a gynecologist and discuss the type of IUD suitable for them before choosing one.

IUDs are available at costs varying between $0- $1,300.00. The wide range of prices indicates the differences in them due to the brand name, quality, and effectiveness. However, having said that, it doesn’t mean the IUDs priced in a lower range are less effective or the expensive IUDs can guarantee a 100% success rate for preventing pregnancy.

Women can also get IUDs free of cost or at a discounted rate if they have access to a health insurance plan, a government program, or Medicaid.

Conclusion

IUDs offer a great choice for women who would like to avoid pregnancy for a period ranging from 3 years to more than 10 years. They provide long-term protection against conception and allow women to focus on other priorities.The higher effectiveness, safety, and the reduced risk of side effects from IUDs also can also ease the stress and anxiety of having an unplanned pregnancy. For all of these reasons, IUDs are considered the best birth control method.

Her Smart Choice offers IUDs and family planning services in multiple locations throughout the greater Los Angeles, CA area. 

For more information or to schedule an appointment today, please visit: https://hersmartchoice.com/services/iuds/ 

 

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