What Should I do About a Missed Contraceptive Pill?

Article Details
  • Written By: Amanda R. Bell
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 30 August 2016
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
The atmosphere of Jupiter's moon Io collapses every time it is eclipsed by the planet.   more...

September 29 ,  2008 :  The Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced its largest one-day drop in history.  more...

Forgetting to take a birth control pill can increase your risk of becoming pregnant. If you're taking a combination pill, you may need to use backup protection, take two pills at once, or skip some or all of the inactive pills in your pack. If you're taking a progestin-only pill, you will most likely need to take the pill as soon as you remember and use backup birth control for two to seven days after the missed contraceptive pill.

It is common for many women to forget to take their combination pill for one day. If this happens to you, take the missed contraceptive pill as soon as you remember, and finish your pack as planned. If your missed contraceptive pill is one of the sugar pills at the end of most packs, throw the pill away and continue taking the remaining inactive pills; it is important to never go longer than seven days without taking an active pill. If you forgot one pill in the first week of a new pack, you may want to use a backup birth control method for the next week. The combination of going seven days without hormonal birth control during the inactive portion of the pack and then missing a pill in the first part of the active portion can reduce contraceptive effectiveness.


Missing two or more active combination pills can significantly increase your chances of becoming pregnant; no matter where in the pack you are, you will need to use a backup method of birth control for a week after you resume taking your pills. If you realize you've missed a few pills, most doctors recommend taking two pills at once, resuming your pack, and using backup protection for a week. If you miss two or more pills in the third week of a pack, you should finish the active pills in your pack and move directly to your next pack, skipping the inactive pills in the first pack. If you miss two or more pills in the first week of your pack and had unprotected sex, you may want to use emergency contraception to protect yourself from an unplanned pregnancy. If you've only missed two of the inactive pills, throw the pills away and resume taking your pack as scheduled.

A missed contraceptive pill when taking progestin-only birth control can greatly increase your chances of becoming pregnant. While combination pills are best taken at about the same time every day, progestin-only pills absolutely need to be taken at the same time to maximize contraceptive effectiveness. If you do not take your pill within three hours of the time you usually do, you will need to take the pill as soon as you remember and use backup birth control for the next two days.

If it has been less than three hours, take your pill as soon as you remember and use backup for the next 24 hours. If you've missed a day or more of your progestin-only pill, resume your pack as scheduled and use a backup method of birth control for at least seven days. If you've had unprotected sex during this time frame, you may want to use emergency contraception to ensure you do not become pregnant. A missed contraceptive pill, whether a combination or progestin only, can greatly diminish the effectiveness of birth control; taking your oral contraceptive every day as scheduled is one of the best ways to protect yourself from an unplanned pregnancy.


You might also Like


Discuss this Article

Post 1

The nice thing about the birth control pill packs is they give detailed instructions on what to do if you forget a pill. It's really important to read these instructions because they can vary, depending on your dosage and what kind of pills you're taking. They can vary because of the different kinds of pills that are prescribed.

If you have any doubts about what to do if you miss a pill, call your doctor. He or she can give you a definitive, reliable answer.

Post your comments

exception 'Exception' with message 'error writing captcha: Duplicate entry '2147483647' for key 'PRIMARY'' in /ssd/www/wisegeek/public_html/_core/classes/public/Captcha.php:44
Stack trace:
#0 /ssd/www/wisegeek/public_html/_core/controls/public/ControlDiscussionPostBox.php(324): Captcha->createCaptcha()
#1 /ssd/www/wisegeek/public_html/framework/classes/Control.php(104): ControlDiscussionPostBox->preRender(false)
#2 /ssd/www/wisegeek/public_html/framework/classes/Control.php(149): Control->render()
#3 /ssd/www/wisegeek/public_html/tpl/default-nocustom-lu/pages/public/article/article.htm(526): Control->__toString()
#4 /ssd/www/wisegeek/public_html/framework/classes/Control.php(300): require('/ssd/www/wisege...')
#5 /ssd/www/wisegeek/public_html/framework/classes/Control.php(309): Control->requireTpl('pages/public/ar...', Object(PageArticleCom), true)
#6 /ssd/www/wisegeek/public_html/framework/classes/Control.php(131): Control->renderTpl('pages/public/ar...', Object(PageArticleCom))
#7 /ssd/www/wisegeek/public_html/framework/classes/FormDataControl.php(87): Control->renderTemplate()
#8 /ssd/www/wisegeek/public_html/framework/classes/Control.php(109): FormDataControl->renderTemplate()
#9 /ssd/www/wisegeek/public_html/framework/classes/ScriptPage.php(50): Control->render(false)
#10 /ssd/www/wisegeek/public_html/framework/classes/Control.php(149): ScriptPage->render()
#11 /ssd/www/wisegeek/public_html/framework/classes/Page.php(97): Control->__toString()
#12 /ssd/www/wisegeek/public_html/_core/classes/public/PublicFrontController.php(443): Page->processRequest()
#13 /ssd/www/wisegeek/public_html/_core/classes/public/PublicFrontController.php(7): PublicFrontController->renderPage()
#14 /ssd/www/wisegeek/public_html/index.php(11): PublicFrontController::run()
#15 {main}