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Researchers link holiday drinking to increased demand for morning after pill

By Jake Beardslee · December 21, 2023

In brief…

  • Study finds 41,000 more "morning after pills" sold nationwide the week after New Year's Eve compared to weekly average
  • They call sales data a "warning sign" of greater contraceptive need, especially in light of abortion restrictions
  • Texas and 13 other states currently ban or heavily restrict abortion access
  • Medication delays ovulation to prevent pregnancy; works best within 72 hours of intercourse
A new study links heightened sales of emergency contraception after New Year's Eve, highlighting a potential need for greater access to birth control options especially in light of abortion restrictions in numerous states.  Bgtp/Wikimedia

A new study reveals that sales of emergency contraception, also known as the “morning after pill,” spike significantly in the week following New Year’s Eve celebrations. Researchers at the University of Texas analyzed sales data for the medication from 2016-2022 and found that approximately 41,000 more units were sold nationwide during the first week of January compared to the weekly average.

They theorize this sales boost is attributable to an increase in unprotected sex over the holiday as a result of heightened alcohol consumption. The morning after pill works by delaying ovulation in order to prevent pregnancy after intercourse.

Texas and 13 other states currently have either total or near-total bans on abortion. The researchers said their sales data indicates “unmet contraceptive need that calls for further attention.” They also warned that tighter restrictions could cause sales to climb even higher next year, writing that “More than ever, emergency contraception is a critically important option for people in the US, particularly those living in regions with bans or severe restrictions on abortion.”