The morning after pill is an extra high dose of birth control pill, taken in either two doses twelve hours apart or one larger dose. About 89% effective against pregnancy, it is meant to be taken after sex, and only when you have not used any contraception or the contraception you did use has been compromised. It is not meant to be taken on a regular basis, and it is not as effective against pregnancy as other contraceptives.
No instructions are given to avoid alcohol after taking the morning after pill. It does not interact with alcohol. If you have been drinking when the accident happens, it is fine to take the morning after pill. You do not have to wait for the alcohol to leave your system. However, there are other good reasons not to drink alcohol after taking the morning after pill.
Though alcohol does not compromise the morning after pill’s effectiveness, it could exacerbate its side effects. Headache and nausea are common side effects of the morning after pill, and in some cases, the nausea progresses to vomiting. Drinking alcohol, especially in large amounts, can also cause these effects. If you get them from both alcohol and the morning after pill at the same time, it’s a double whammy. If you vomit within three hours of taking the pill, it does not get fully absorbed into your system, making it less likely to work.
The best thing to drink when taking a morning after pill is herbal tea made from ginger, chamomile, or peppermint. All of these settle upset stomachs and help prevent vomiting. Of the three, ginger is the most effective. It is also advised that you eat lightly before taking the morning after pill rather than take it on an empty stomach. Something bland, such as plain yogurt or saltine crackers, is best.
As a rule, you should treat your body gently when you need to take a morning after pill. It is an extra high dose of hormones, which is not exactly easy on the system. Though the morning after pill is safe to take, even for most women who have contraindications for regular birth control pills, it is not wise to tax your system with other substances when adding such a high dose of hormones. Alcohol is not the thing to drink when you need to go easy on your body.
Though one might think another reason not to drink alcohol after taking the morning after pill is the possibility of pregnancy, that in itself is not much of a risk. It is true that there is a greater chance of getting pregnant when you take a morning after pill than when you use more reliable contraception. It is also true that women are advised not to drink alcohol when pregnant or trying to become pregnant because it can cause birth defects.
However, this is not much of a risk at the very beginning of the pregnancy. Women who drink lightly to moderately in the early weeks of pregnancy, not knowing that they are pregnant, have not been shown to run any greater risk of having a baby with birth defects than women who abstain, as long as they stop drinking once they know they are pregnant.
At the time when you would be taking a morning after pill, you are not pregnant yet. Conception does not happen at the moment of sexual intercourse. It takes several hours to several days for sperm to meet egg, and up to a week and a half after that for pregnancy to occur. In that time, if the morning after pill works like it should (and it does about 89% of the time), it interferes with that process, preventing pregnancy.
If you are taking a morning after pill, you presumably are not trying to become pregnant. Should you become pregnant anyway, continuing the pregnancy would be safe even if you were drinking when conception happened, and even if you took a morning after pill. If you are already pregnant when you take the morning after pill, it does nothing to the baby.
The only solid reasons not to drink alcohol after taking the morning after pill are the need to treat your body gently and the risk that alcohol would exacerbate the pill’s side effects. Considering that one of these possible side effects is vomiting, which would keep you from getting the benefit of the pill, that is reason enough.