Many of us enjoy a drink from time to time – but whether you’re raising a glass with friends or having a quiet drink with dinner, it’s important to make sure that any medication you’re taking is alcohol-friendly.
The last thing we want to do is lecture you, but lately a few people have asked us about the impact that drinking alcohol can have on taking the contraceptive pill. You’ll be relieved to know that Hana remains more than 99% effective regardless of whether or not you’ve been drinking. That being said, there are a few important things you should bear in mind if you’ve had a big night out while on the progestogen-only pill.
Does Drinking Alcohol Make Hana Less Effective?
While Hana itself is still over 99% effective, if you’ve had a few drinks you may sometimes find that you are perhaps a little less reliable than usual. This means you might be more likely to miss a pill.
Hana should be taken at the same time every day, so having a lie-in the morning after could mean you end up sleeping past the point you should have taken your pill. Leaving your pill at home on your night out might also mean you forget to take it.
If you are planning to stay out overnight, it’s a good idea to take a spare Hana pill pack with you – just remember to check the storage instructions on the packet. If you’ve forgotten yours you can always pick one up from a pharmacy over-the-counter without a prescription.
Setting a daily alarm on your phone is also a great way to remind yourself to take your pill at the same time every day, and you might want to tick it off a daily to-do list so you always have a record of having taken that day’s pill.
If you do forget to take it, for whatever reason, as long as you remember to take it within 12 hours of the usual time your pill will still be effective. If it’s been longer than 12 hours, it counts as a missed pill – and you can find out what to do if you’ve missed your pill here.
Remember that drinking too much can be dangerous. For more info on drinking responsibly, click here.
What Happens If I’m Sick?
From time to time, drinking too much alcohol can make you sick – which is something that can impact the efficacy of your pill.
Vomiting (or having diarrhoea) within 3-4 hours of taking your pill means your body won’t have had time to absorb it, and you should treat that pill as a ‘missed’ pill. You should not take another pill to ‘double up’ your dose. Instead, take your next pill the following day as normal.
In the meantime, you’ll need to use an additional, alternative method of contraception (such as condoms) for for the duration of the illness and for the first 7 days of normal pill taking. You can find out more about different methods of contraception here. Remember that you can always talk to a pharmacist if you have any questions.
While Hana is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy when taken properly, it won’t protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs.) Barrier methods (such as condoms or dental dams) are the only ways to protect against these, so if you are sleeping with anyone new it is always a good idea to use a barrier method if you are at all unsure about someone’s status – or if you are at all uncomfortable about not using protection.
Of course, we’re all human and mistakes happen. If you’re concerned about having had unprotected sex, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor or visit your local sexual health clinic. They’ll be able to offer you STI tests and treatments. You may also be able to order a STI testing kit to your home if that makes you more comfortable.
Does the Pill Affect Your Alcohol Tolerance?
This depends a little on your tolerance to begin with – people react differently to drinking alcohol.
When taking the pill, your liver has to metabolise both the pill and the alcohol that you’re drinking. This doesn’t mean that you get more drunk, although the effects of the alcohol may be prolonged as it stays in your system for longer. It’s always a good idea to pace yourself when drinking by sipping slowly and alternating with a glass of water or a soft drink.
As always with Hana, you are in control of your own contraception – and if you take your pill correctly it will always be more than 99% effective.
If you are concerned about how drinking is affecting you, DrinkAware has some helpful tips and resources to help you manage it.