Don’t freak out: Just follow these steps.
Even the most organized and responsible among us forget to take the Pill once in awhile. Setting a daily timer on your phone helps, but stuff happens. Real talk: This is a big deal. After all, it’s the primary reason some women get pregnant while they take the Pill.
So what should you do if you forget to take a birth control pill to prevent pregnancy?
Here’s what to do for a combined hormone pill, which means it contains both estrogen and progestin, according to ob-gyn Kecia Gaither, MD.
Take the missed pill as soon as possible. Then, stay on track with the remaining pills, even if it means taking two at once.
If the pill you missed is in the first week of your pack, use a backup method (like condoms) for the next seven days.
If you’ve missed two or more pills, use a backup method until you’ve been taking the Pill consistently for at least seven days.
Missed a placebo pills at the end of the pack? It’s no biggie if you skip those. (They’re really just a sugar pill to keep you in the habit of taking a pill at the same time every day.)
For a progestin-only pill, the process is a little different.
If you miss your scheduled time by more than three hours, you’ll need to use a backup method like condoms or take a break from sex for the next two days. Take the next pill as soon as possible and continue taking the following pills as scheduled.
If you’re worried about an accidental pregnancy, don’t hesitate to talk with your doctor about emergency contraception. Oh, and if you’re constantly forgetting to take your birth control pill, you may want to consider a more long-acting form of contraception, like an implant, shot, or IUD.
Dr. Gaither, an ob-gyn and maternal fetal medicine specialist, is director of perinatal services at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center, a member of NYC Health + Hospitals System in Bronx, New York.
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What should I do if I forget
to take my birth control pill?
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Well, this is the most common slip-ups
women make when it comes to taking
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And a key reason you can get pregnant
when you're technically on the pill.
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If you're taking a combined birth
control pill and you miss one pill,
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take it as soon as possible, then stay
on track with your remaining pills.
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This may mean you take two
pills at the same time.
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If the pill you miss is in
the first week of a new pack
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use a backup method like condoms for
the next seven days.
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If you miss two or more pills,
you do the same thing.
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But you should use a backup until
you've taken your pills normally for
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at least seven days.
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If one of the pills you miss is
the placebo pills at the end of the pack,
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don't worry about it.
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It's fine to skip them.
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If you're taking a progestin-only pill and
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you miss your usual window
by more than three hours,
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take the next pill as soon as possible,
then keep taking your pills on schedule.
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You'll ned to use a backup method or
avoid having sex within the next two days.
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If you're ever concerned about
whether to use emergency contraception
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because of a pill mistake,
it's always best to call your doctor and
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explain your particular situation.
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- Recommended Actions After Late or Missed Combined Oral Contraceptives. Atlanta, GA. CDC (Accessed on January 1, 2021 at https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/unintendedpregnancy/pdf/248124_fig_2_3_4_final_tag508.pdf)
- Combined Hormonal Contraceptives. Atlanta, GA. CDC (Accessed on January 1, 2021 at https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/contraception/mmwr/spr/combined.html)
Late, late, for a very important pill? Washington, DC: Bedsider, 2011. (Accessed on January 1, 2021 at https://www.bedsider.org/features/153-late-late-for-a-very-important-pill.)Missed a birth control pill? Here’s what to do. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, 2017. (Accessed on January 1, 2021 at https://health.cornell.edu/sites/health/files/pdf-library/missed-birth-control-pill.pdf.)