Most forms of birth control require storage in dry, cool places at room temperature. Direct sunlight and extreme temperatures may cause them to break down and become less effective.

Prolonged periods of extreme temperature may damage birth control and make it less effective.

It is important to store birth control safely.

This article looks at how temperature may affect birth control, what to do if people think the temperature has affected birth control, and tips for storing birth control safely.

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Extended periods of very hot or cold temperatures may affect how birth control works and make it less effective.

Many medications, including birth control, can be susceptible to temperature as it can cause them to break down.

People will need to avoid leaving birth control in places that may become much hotter than normal room temperature, such as in:

  • a car or other vehicle, which can become hot very quickly
  • checked airplane luggage
  • direct sunlight
  • a bathroom cabinet or kitchen, as these may become humid

It is also important to avoid places in which birth control may become very cold, such as in a car overnight or a refrigerator, unless the package instructions state otherwise.

Temperature may affect the following types of birth control:

  • Birth control pill: People will need to store oral contraceptives at room temperature, at 68–77°F (20–25°C), and protect them from direct sunlight.
  • Birth control patch: People will need to store birth control patches at room temperature, and avoid storing them in direct sunlight, the refrigerator, or the freezer.
  • Birth control ring: Before dispensing, the NuvaRing requires storage in a refrigerator at the pharmacy. Once the pharmacy has dispensed it and it is out of the refrigerator, it is effective for up to 4 months at room temperature and no higher than 86°F (30°C).
  • Birth control shot: The Depo-Provera shot requires storing at room temperature.
  • Condoms: Over time, excessive heat and moisture may damage condoms. People will need to store condoms in a cool, dry place, below 104°F (40°C).

Medications may change appearance if temperature has affected them. This can include changes to the color, texture, or shape, such as:

  • pills sticking together
  • visible chips, holes, tears, or other damage
  • change in smell or color
  • pills feeling softer or harder than usual
  • a condom feeling sticky, stiff, or dry

Medications may not always alter visibly with temperature changes. If birth control has no noticeable changes but a person knows it has been in extreme temperature for a prolonged time, or if they have any doubts, it is best to be cautious.

If people think temperature has affected birth control, they can discard the birth control and use a new one. When a person is unsure, they can contact a pharmacist or manufacturer to check.

If people continue using the affected birth control, it may be best to use a backup method as well, such as using a condom, until they start a new, unaffected pack of birth control pills or change a birth control patch.

People will need to follow instructions on the packaging regarding temperatures and storage advice for each type of birth control or consult a pharmacist. A person can also make sure to:

  • avoid storing birth control in excessively hot or cold places for extended periods of time
  • store birth control in a dry, cool place at room temperature and avoid direct sunlight
  • avoid humid places, such as bathrooms or kitchen cabinets, that are close to heat sources
  • keep the birth control out of reach of children and pets
  • if traveling by airplane or car, keep birth control in carry-on luggage or the glove box, rather than the trunk of a car
  • keep it in its packaging until they are ready to use it, or use a birth-control-friendly container or case to store it
  • avoid storing condoms in a wallet, as the heat and friction may cause damage to them

The following are commonly asked questions about birth control and temperature.

What happens if a person leaves birth control in a hot car for 3 hours?

Leaving birth control in very hot temperatures for prolonged periods of time may cause it to be less effective.

If a person is unsure if heat has affected their birth control, they can contact a pharmacist for more advice. They may need to discard the birth control and replace it.

How long can birth control be in the cold?

Birth control may be able to withstand brief exposure to cold temperatures below the recommended storage temperature, but prolonged cold temperatures may make it less effective.

How long can birth control be in the heat?

There is little scientific information on how long birth control can stay in the heat. Brief exposure may not affect birth control, but prolonged heat exposure will cause it to break down.

Storing condoms in hot, humid places for longer than 1 month may damage them.

What is the maximum temperature birth control can be stored at?

Birth control needs storing at room temperature, at 68–77°F (20–25°C). Unless medications require refrigerating, it is best to keep temperatures no lower than 59°F (15ºC) and no higher than 86°F (30ºC).

Prolonged periods of extreme heat or cold may cause damage to birth control, which can make it less effective.

People can store birth control in a dry, cool place at room temperature. If a person thinks temperature has affected any type of birth control, they can discard it and use a new item, or use a backup method in addition.

If people are unsure about how to store birth control or if temperature has caused damage to it, they can refer to the storage instructions on the packet insert, instructions they received with the medication, or consult a pharmacist or the manufacturer.