Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Entry archive:

(Thinkstock)
(Thinkstock)

Binge-drinking college gals take note: Throwing up can negate the Pill Add to ...

Ahead of another balmy weekend, a story out of Halifax may dampen the spirits of randy, booze-inclined college students (all of them?).

Open File reports on the shock and horror of university students who learn that vomiting may increase their pregnancy risk, if they’ve happened to expel their birth control pill in the process.

More related to this story

The story quotes several health practitioners who advise women to rule out the method of contraception if they've prayed to the porcelain god shortly after popping their daily Pill.

“I was really surprised that no one had ever told me that before,” one Dalhousie University student opined. “I was more thinking back: ‘Oh my God, how many times have I technically missed a pill? And how many times have I put myself at risk?’ ”

The article's author, Rebecca Lamarche, points out that Pill manufacturers disclose the risk, but it's stamped in fine print on the pamphlet inside the package, stuff women typically scan and chuck after the first usage.

An Alesse 21 packet, for example, suggests that “your pills may not work as well” under several conditions, including vomiting. “Use a back-up method, such as latex condoms and spermicidal foam or gel, until you can check with your doctor or clinic,” the maker suggests.

Epigee, a physician-run educational resource for women, is a tad more specific about the nature of the risk: “Vomiting within two hours of taking the pill will require you to take a replacement pill.”

That advice is echoed by health services at Brown University, one of several schools that address the query: “If you vomit within two hours of taking your pill, you should consider that pill missed, and take another from a separate pack as soon as you can keep things down.”

Beyond the contraceptive risk, the Open File story points to a more disquieting campus reality: Students routinely having sex while violently inebriated.

One student on the Pill for six years offers: “I puke all the time and have sex with my boyfriend after,” qualifying that the bleary-eyed ritual is an integral part of college life. “You get drunk, you puke, then you have sex … And it’s like: Everybody does it.”

The details would set any tuition-paying parent squirming, but they're also earning Canadians a reputation in the blogosphere: Gawker compares the Halifax students' antics to a William S. Burroughs novel.

On the bright side, most of the interviewed students were shocked by the Pill/vomit correlation, making solemn promises to pack condoms and pound back a few less Jager bombs next time around. Here's hoping.

Do birth control pills need bolder disclaimers for binge-drinking college gals, or is this indicative of greater problems in college culture?

Follow on Twitter: @ZosiaBielski

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories