For many women, the birth control pill is an essential medication.
If you’re taking the pill, you may have questions about bringing it on a plane. Luckily, there is absolutely nothing to worry about.
Passengers can travel with birth control pills in their checked and carry-on luggage. Birth control falls under the TSA’s medication guidelines, where medicines in solid form are allowed through security; however, all medications are subject to additional screening when carried in hand luggage.
You don’t need to tell the TSA you have solid medications in your carry-on luggage, but if it triggers an alert when going through the x-ray, they may want to inspect it further.
TSA Rules on Pills and Medication
The TSA rules for pills and medications are pretty straightforward – they allow passengers to carry solid medicines in their carry-on and checked luggage.
It depends on the type of drug, but it’s usually better to pack your medication in your hand luggage.
You don’t have to declare solid medication while going through security; however, if you also carry liquid medicines, you’ll have to let the agents know.
You can bring unlimited amounts of solid medication in your carry-on, but it may be subject to additional screening.
Guidelines on Traveling With Birth Control
1. Stock Up
It depends on the destination and how long you’ll be there, but I recommend getting an additional supply of all prescription medications before leaving for your trip.
You probably won’t need extra if taking a short trip, but having a second set of pills as a backup can’t hurt.
If you don’t have an extra month of birth control pills on hand, I suggest seeing your doctor or pharmacist at least a week in advance to refill.
2. Pack Them in Your Carry-On
You should always pack medicines in your carry-on for ease of access and as a safeguard against delayed luggage.
However, the birth control pill has some limitations that require carrying it with you, namely, proper storage temperature.
Although the pill can handle extreme temperatures for a short amount of time, when you expose it to temps below 59°F (15°C) or above 86°F (30°C) for too long, it can lose its effectiveness.
The pill is best stored between 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C), and airplane cabins are usually heated between 22°C and 24°C, meaning it’s safer to bring your BCP on the plane with you.
Don’t pack birth control in your checked luggage unless you have to.
3. Have a Plan B
Anything can happen when you’re away from home, so it’s best to have other forms of contraception on hand.
Whatever you choose as your backup is up to you, but an emergency contraceptive like Plan B is worth considering.
Vacations are also fun and exciting (and distracting), so forgetting to take the pill is not uncommon.
I suggest bringing menstrual supplies just in case – especially if traveling to a different time zone, which increases the likelihood of missing at least one.
What If I’m on Depo-Provera?
Depo-Provera is different in that your injection is due every three months.
It’s rarely a problem when you’re away for a few days, but you may find that your next dosage is due when you’re away.
This scenario calls for more strategic planning.
You don’t have to worry, though – you can take the shot earlier.
That said, it would be best if you didn’t take it more than a week early.
If your next shot is due while you’re on vacation, you have a grace period of two weeks, but try not to go past one week unless you have to.
Dealing With the Difference in Time Zones
When traveling with birth control, the biggest challenge is planning around different time zones.
If you change your schedule before your trip, it shouldn’t be a problem. You’ll adjust to your destination timezone, reducing the likelihood of missing a pill.
To make the adjustment, calculate how far ahead (or behind) your destination time is.
As a thought exercise, let’s say you’re traveling to a city that is five hours ahead, and you take your pill every day at 8 a.m.
Starting five days before your trip, take your pill one hour later every day.
On your date of travel, you’ll have moved your schedule from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m (in your home timezone).
Change your watch to your destination’s time, and voila! You’ll find that your next pill is at 8 a.m.
A different way to get around time issues is to set your watch to your home timezone while you’re away.
It works for some, but it’s more difficult for others during the first few days.
Either method will help – just pick the one that works best for you.
Packing birth control in your carry-on is easy as most forms of medication are allowed by the TSA.
The real challenge comes from adjusting your schedule when traveling across time zones. Even then, you shouldn’t have problems if you do a little planning.
If you miss a pill, you can offset any effects by taking one the moment you remember. If you miss more than two pills, contact your doctor or provider.
It’s also a good idea to have a backup plan (like emergency contraceptives) in case of any mishaps.