Does hot temperature damage birth control pills? 

Does hot temperature damage birth control pills? 

Yes, hot temperatures can damage the stability and integrity of your birth control pills. This usually happens when you store it in a warm and humid place like a cabinet above your stove, or in your car on a hot day. 

Birth control pills contain active ingredients that are sensitive to heat and can break down or lose their potency when exposed to elevated temperatures (1). 

This degradation can affect the pills’ ability to release the right amount of hormones required to prevent ovulation and inhibit pregnancy.

Physical signs of damage caused by high temperature

When medications, including birth control pills, are exposed to high temperatures, they can show several physical signs of damage, which may vary depending on the specific drug and its formulation.

Some common physical signs of drug damage from the heat include discolouration, warping, cracks or breaks, coating damage, pill softening, etc (1). 

The degradation of active ingredients can also occur at a molecular level without any physical signs, making it challenging to detect any changes in the appearance of the pills. Even if the drugs appear intact, their effectiveness may be compromised.

Ideal storage temperature for birth control pills

Most birth control pills are recommended to be stored at 15-30°C (2). Temperature above 30° can affect the stability of your pills, by damaging the active ingredient and other excipients added to make the drug stable (2,3). 

However, if the medication is exposed for a short period of time, it’s not likely to be significantly damaged. It’s the prolonged exposure that causes the most damage. 

What to do if you have left your birth control pills exposed to high temperatures? 

If you have accidentally left your birth control pills exposed to high temperatures, it is essential to assess their potential effectiveness before continuing to take them. 

High temperatures can cause damage to the pills and compromise their potency, increasing the risk of unintended pregnancies.

To check if the pills are still safe to use, carefully examine them for any visible signs of damage, such as discolouration, warping, or a change in texture. If you notice any abnormalities, it is best not to take those pills and consider them ineffective. 

In such cases, it’s crucial to use a backup form of contraception and consult your healthcare provider for further guidance. If there are no visible signs of damage and the pills look normal, it might be safe to continue taking them, but it’s still advisable to use additional protection for the rest of the pill pack as a precaution.

If you are unsure or have any concerns, reach out to your healthcare provider to discuss the incident and seek appropriate advice. Your health and contraceptive efficacy are essential, so taking proactive steps in response to this situation is crucial.

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De Winter S, Vanbrabant P, Vi NT, Deng X, Spriet I, Van Schepdael A, Gillet JB. Impact of temperature exposure on stability of drugs in a real-world out-of-hospital setting. Ann Emerg Med. 2013 Oct;62(4):380-387.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2013.04.018. Epub 2013 May 24. PMID: 23711878.


Madden JF, O’Connor RE, Evans J. The range of medication storage temperatures in aeromedical emergency medical services. Prehosp Emerg Care. 1999 Jan-Mar;3(1):27-30. doi: 10.1080/10903129908958902. PMID: 9921737.


Crichton B. Keep in a cool place: exposure of medicines to high temperatures in general practice during a British heatwave. J R Soc Med. 2004 Jul;97(7):328-9. doi: 10.1177/014107680409700706. PMID: 15229258; PMCID: PMC1079525.