Missed a Birth Control Pill?
Birth control pills are an effective and convenient form of contraception. However, oral contraceptives do require a level of responsibility on your part. While there are different types of birth control pills, most of them need to be taken on a certain schedule in order to be effective. In fact, some birth control pills (like progestin-only pills) need to be taken at the exact same time of day.
Oral contraceptives work by adjusting (or stopping) your hormones in a way that prevents ovulation and pregnancy. Your hormone levels have a delicate balance, so even just a slight alteration can impact when and if you ovulate or have a period. It could mean you are unprotected in terms of getting pregnant or it could cause you to have two periods in one month, depending on which birth control pill you take and which pill day you missed.
Don’t Panic, But Here’s What to Do.
While many women resort to setting an alarm on their phone as a reminder, it doesn’t mean that you’ll never forget to take your birth control pill. Life happens. We aren’t robots, and missed birth control pills will occur. While this doesn’t mean your cycle will be unaffected by a missed birth control dose, it does mean you may have to take some extra measures to prevent conception. According to Planned Parenthood, about 9 of 100 women get pregnant when incorrectly using the pill.
First, it is important to determine which type of birth control pill you are on. If you’re taking a combination pill (it contains both estrogen and progestin), missing just one day out of the month isn’t a major cause for alarm. Take it as soon as you remember, even if it is the next day and you end up taking two in one day. Your body probably won’t react and you aren’t highly susceptible to a pregnancy even if you had sex the day of your missed pill. However, if you are missing more than one pill in a month or doing so on a repeated basis, you may need to consider a different form of birth control and use a backup form of contraceptive (condoms) to prevent pregnancy during that month.
If you are on a progestin-only birth control pill, the rules are a bit different and definitely more strict. These pills are effective when taken at the same time every day, and missing one does put you at risk for pregnancy. Which pill you miss also matters. If it is the first pill of a brand-new pack, your body may get confused and start ovulating. The same is true for missing the last “active” pill in your pack.
Are You a Chronic Pill-Misser?
Birth control pills aren’t for every woman. If you consistently have trouble remembering to take your pill, there are other methods of preventing pregnancy without condoms. Many women benefit from an IUD or birth control implant. Don’t be shy about admitting your laxity with your birth control pill schedule to your physician, as there are countless options to choose from. At North Pointe OB/GYN, we are confident that we can find a birth control method that works best for you!