I'm a GP – here's how the weather could make your contraception LESS effective | The Sun

THE VAST majority of women in the UK are using some form of contraception.

Whether it's taking the Pill each day, using a patch, a ring or condoms – 85 per cent rely on birth control methods, according to Statista.  

But, experts are warning that in some cases, the hot weather could interfere with certain types of contraception.

Contraception is created from chemicals, some of which are sensitive to heat.

This means that if stored in high, or even low, temperatures contraception can become less effective and could put you at risk of unplanned pregnancy.

The Met office predicts temperatures could hit 35C this weekend, so we asked Dr Frances Yarlett, GP and a medical director of The Lowdown how best to look after your contraception as the weather hots up. 

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The contraceptive pill

The Pill is a very popular method of contraception, which when used perfectly, can prevent pregnancy by up to 99 per cent.

However, effectiveness drops to 91 per cent when pills are taken slightly late or occasionally missed. And his could drop even further if your pill is not stored correctly, Dr Yarlett warns.

“We know that extreme heat can affect chemical compounds, therefore it is always a good idea to keep the pill in a cool dry place and avoid extreme temperature changes,” she explains. 

“I often recommend storing somewhere you see regularly to make sure you take it on time! For example, in a cool bathroom, next to your toothbrush.”

As a general tip, contraceptive pills should be stored at around 20C.

The pills can survive higher or lower temperatures but only for a short time.

This means pills should not be exposed to temperatures higher than 30C or lower than 15C for extended periods of time. 

Some combined pill brands will have their own specific instructions. Popular combined pill Yasmin, for example, should not be stored above 30C.

While Ovranette and Marvelon should not be stored above 25C.

Meanwhile, Cerazette, a progestogen-only pill, does not require any special temperature storage instructions. 

It’s therefore worth checking the instructions that come with your pill in case this is specified.

Keeping your pills in their original packaging will also help protect from moisture and light. 

If the room temperature rises above 30C, do not be tempted to put the pill in the fridge, instead, find a cool dry cupboard and place the pill in there until the room cools down, Dr Yarlett warns. 

The patch

The contraceptive patch is one of the newest forms of contraception on the market.

When used correctly, the patch is more than 99 per cent effective at preventing pregnancy.

Each patch lasts for one week and unlike the pill, remains just as effective even if you are sick.

The patch is a thin, beige plaster that contains the same hormones as the combined contraceptive pill –  oestrogen and progestogen.

It is stuck to your skin and releases the hormones into your body. 

Due to the adhesive nature of the patch, sweating from heat can result in it falling off. 

The patch is designed to stay on during a bath, shower or swimming but some people report having issues with them sticking. 

Dr Yarlett says it is “really important” to check the patch daily when the weather is hot.

“If there is any rippling or any part of the patch that is coming off make sure you change it to a new one,” she explains. 

The vaginal ring

The vaginal ring, which like the patch is a combined contraceptive method that is 99 per cent effective at preventing pregnancy. 

It is a small soft plastic ring that you place inside, at the top of your vagina. It needs to be replaced with a new ring every three weeks.

The vaginal ring is designed to work when exposed to our body temperature – which is 37C.

If your ring is left at a temperature higher or lower than 37C it can start releasing hormones which can make it less effective when you go to use it. 

“There's no real evidence around this, however medications may alter due to the effect of heat on chemical compounds, so it’s best to keep them out of the heat,” Dr Yarlett adds. 


Only around 27 per cent of women in the UK choose condoms as their main form of contraception. 

Despite not containing any hormones, condoms can still be easily broken or damaged rendering them ineffective, Dr Yarlett explains.

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“Condoms should always be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, where they can’t be pierced or damaged”, she says. 

“Always check the expiration date too! It’s important to know that oil-based lubricants can also damage latex condoms, causing them to rip and make them less/ineffective,” she adds. 

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