Things That Can Affect Your Birth Control

For many women, birth control has numerous benefits such as allowing women more flexibility in family planning options to regulating hormones. However, these benefits are contingent on birth control methods being effective. Many forms of birth control have high rates of effectiveness, however there are some things that can affect the way a particular birth control method works. In some cases, certain factors can even decrease the effectiveness of birth control. Here are the most common reasons that popular birth control methods can fail: 

Incorrect Condom Usage

When using condoms as your primary method of birth control, you need to be careful that you are using them correctly. There are various things that can damage a condom and cause it to lose its effectiveness. For example: accidentally ripping them while opening the package, storing them in extreme temperatures, not leaving enough room at the tip, using oil-based lubricants that erode latex, and using expired condoms. 

A Lack of Consistency

Certain birth control methods, for example the pill, must be taken consistently to maintain their effectiveness. Forgetting to take a pill or skipping  pill here and there will unfortunately make your birth control less likely to work. If you have trouble maintaining a routine, you may want to consider an alternative form of contraception that does not require daily intervention. 

woman with nausea

You’re Sick

If you are sick with an illness that causes vomiting or diarrhea and you are on birth control pills, the pills may actually not stay in your system long enough to be absorbed. Therefore, it is basically like you never took the pill that day. 


In some cases, your weight can also affect the effectiveness of your birth control. There has been research that indicates the pill and the patch tend to be less effective in women who are overweight. However, the relationship between weight and birth control effectiveness is still being researched. 

Falls off or out  

Certain birth control methods such as the patch, ring, and IUDs are the most effective when they are placed in the correct location. If these methods do not remain in the correct position or if they are not replaced as directed, they will become less effective. In the case that an IUD shifts in position and you think you may be pregnant, you will need to schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately. 

st. john's wort plant and oil

Certain Medications

There are certain medications and supplements that can alter the effectiveness of your birth control pills. These include epilepsy medications, antiviral medications, the antifungal griseofulvin, and St. John’s Wort. Contrary to popular belief, most antibiotics do not affect your birth control. In fact only rifampicin has been proven to change the effectiveness of birth control pills. 

As you can see, there are various things that can affect your birth control method. No matter what birth control method you use, it is important to make sure that you understand how to correctly use your method, when to replace or administer your method, and what things can affect your specific method. Luckily, a trip to your local gynecologist can answer any questions you may have about your birth control method and ensure that you are using the best method for your lifestyle and health. 

Headshot of Sunshine State Women's Care Dr. Zann

Dr. Geoffrey Zann is a Certified Robotic Da Vinci Surgeon, Board-certified by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and a Diplomat of the American Board Obstetrics of Gynecology.  He has been a member of the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology, American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists, and the Hugh R. K. Barber Obstetric and Gynecologic Society.