If you’re taking birth control, it’s important to understand how your medication works, as well as what substances might interact with it and make it less effective. For those who drink, there may be concerns over mixing alcohol and birth control. So, does alcohol affect birth control? Learn the answer below, and if you struggle with alcohol misuse, you may benefit from working with Confidant Health for alcohol rehab and medication assisted treatment to help you stop or reduce your drinking.
What is birth control?
When people think of birth control, they often imagine “the pill.” While this is one form of birth control, there are actually numerous birth control options on the market.
Birth control is an umbrella term used to describe medications and other methods that prevent pregnancy. There is not one single method of birth control that is 100% effective, and the best option for you depends upon your unique needs and health history.
The various birth control methods work in different ways to reduce the likelihood of pregnancy.
What are the types of birth control?
There are multiple birth control options available. Some of them are prescription medications or devices that must be prescribed by a doctor; others can be purchased over-the-counter at a pharmacy. Finally, some birth control methods are described as “natural” and do not require any sort of medical product.
The different types of birth control are described in more detail below.
Surgical procedures can be performed on both men and women, and they are designed to be permanent. These procedures prevent fertilization of the egg by cutting or damaging the tubes responsible for carrying the sperm or the egg.
Long-acting contraceptives (LACs) are reversible birth control methods. This method can include implanting a device in the uterus or implantation of hormonal devices in the body.
One example of an LAC is Nexplanon, a hormonal device that is implanted under the skin in the arm. This device works by slowly releasing the hormone progestin into the body. This hormone stops the egg from being released from the ovary, and it makes the lining of the uterus thicker to make it difficult for an egg to implant. Finally, Nexplanon thickens cervical mucus to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg.
Another option under this category is an IUD (intrauterine device), which is a T-shaped plastic product placed inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy. A copper IUD like Paragard doesn’t contain hormones and can prevent pregnancy for up to 12 years. Hormonal devices like Mirena contain progestin and can prevent pregnancy for 3 to 6 years.
Short-Acting Hormonal Methods
Short-term hormonal methods include pills, shots, patches, and vaginal rings. These methods work by stopping the ovaries from releasing eggs or by preventing the sperm from reaching the egg.
Barrier methods of birth control are available over-the-counter at most drug stores and mass retailers. Perhaps the most common barrier method is the use of a condom. Other methods include diaphragms, sponges, and cervical caps.
Natural birth control methods do not use any form of medication, or any product to prevent pregnancy. Instead, these methods rely on timing sex so that a couple does not have intercourse when a woman is most fertile, or on the male “pulling out” prior to ejaculation.
Both of these methods can be risky. Timing sex so that it does not occur when a woman is most fertile requires tracking the monthly cycle, so a couple can determine when a woman is likely to be ovulating. This method is not guaranteed, because it is possible to mistrack the ovulation window, and some women may have irregular cycles, which means ovulation does not occur at the same time each month.
The rhythm method, which involves timing sex and avoiding it during the most fertile window, has a failure rate of 13.9% over the course of a year, meaning that nearly 14% of couples who use this method will become pregnant. Furthermore, about 1 out of 5 people who use the “pull out method” will become pregnant over the course of a year.