May 23 2022

Active ingredient: oral contraceptives

The relationship between oral contraceptives and metabolism of ethanol in women was examined in a group of 40 social drinkers aged 21 to 30 years. Twenty women taking oral contraceptives and 20 other women who were not taking oral contraceptives took a moderate dose of ethanol (0.52 g / kg) during the menstrual , intermenstrual and premenstrual phase of the cycle. The group of women taking oral contraceptives showed a significant decrease in the rate of elimination of ethanol (105 mg/kg/h) in comparation with women who were not taking oral contraceptives (121 mg/kg/h, p <0.005).

These results were consistent across all three phases of the menstrual cycle and also when body mass index was taken in count.

The decreased rate of ethanol metabolism in women taking oral contraceptives is consistent with data from other oral contraceptives drugs that also have a decrease in metabolic rates in women taking contraceptives.

These results indicate the need for caution regarding the possible interaction of oral contraceptives with alcohol [1].

The results of another study suggest that oral contraceptive use may induce some kind of tolerance to ethanol. The researchers suggest that, at least, women who use oral contraceptives should try not to drink more than usual[2].

A group of 20 women receiving oral contraceptives was compared with other with similar features but not taking birth control pills. In the first group occurred a significant elevation of acetaldehyde concentration respect to the 2nd group. The authors consider that women with high levels of steroids, either by oral contraceptives or pregnancy, have a higher risk of toxic effects from ingestion of alcohol[3].

In patients receiving ethinylestradiol, no changes were observed in the pharmacokinetics of alcohol by effect of estrogen. [4]

Consuming large amounts of alcohol has been associated with menstrual irregularities, including anovulatory cycles, recurrent amenorrhea and early menopause. In addition, moderate alcohol consumption appears to increase the risk of spontaneous abortion and breast cancer. These effects should, at least in part, to changes in hormone levels produced by alcohol[5]

It has been published the case of a patient of 33 years, that consumed daily a liter of beer and suffered a heart attack three weeks after start taking oral contraceptives. These drugs reduce the level of antithrombin III and the blood fibrinolytic activity, resulting in a blood's hypercoagulation[6].

Blood pressure correlates with the combined use of oral contraceptives and alcohol. In one study, the values of systolic blood pressure were about 8 mm Hg higher in women taking oral contraceptives and drank more alcohol compared with women not taking oral contraceptives and consumed minimally alcoholic beverages [7].


1: Jones MK, Jones BM. Ethanol metabolism in women taking oral contraceptives. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 1984 Jan-Feb, 8 (1) :24-8.
2: Hobbes J, Boutagy J, Shenfield GM. Interactions Between Ethanol and oral contraceptive steroids. Oralesl Pharmanticonceptivos Clin Ther. 1985 Oct; 38 (4) :371-80.
3: Jeavons CM, Zeiner AR. Effects of elevated female sex steroids on ethanol and acetaldehyde metabolism in humans. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 1984 Jul-Aug; 8 (4) :352-8.
4: Sarkola T, Ahola L, von der Pahlen B, Eriksson CJ. Lack of effect of Alcohol on ethinylestradiol in premenopausal women. Contraception. 2001 Jan, 63 (1) :19-23.
5: Sarkola T, M?kisalo H, Fukunaga T, Eriksson CJ. Acute effect of Alcohol on estradiol, estrone, progesterone, prolactin, cortisol, and luteinizing hormone in premenopausal women. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 1999 Jun; 23 (6) :976-82.
6: Poniecki A, Peterson, Mroczek S, Hrynkiewicz Z. [A case of myocardial extensive infarction in a young woman as a complication of oral contraceptives and Alcohol]. Tyg Pol Lek. 1988 February 22, 43 (8) :256-8. Abstract.
7: Wallace RB, Barrett-Connor E, Criqui M, Wahl P, Hoover J, Hunninghake D, Heiss G. Alteration in Blood Pressures Associated with Alcohol and combined oral contraceptive use-the Prevalence lipid research clinics study. J Chronic Dis. 1982, 35 (4) :251-7.