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You forgot to take your birth control pill. Now what? The first step is not to panic. Here, we walk you through exactly what to do to get back on your contraceptive track.

Take a tiny pill every day — preventing pregnancy can’t get much simpler, can it? Unfortunately, even when you do your due diligence to stay on top of your contraceptive game plan, it’s possible to slip up every now and then.

When you do forget to take one of your birth control pills, it’s understandable to feel a bit of unrest. The good news is that there’s a simple way to get back on track.

In this blog, JeanAnn Schwark, MS, FNP-C, and our team at Serenity Women’s Care in Scottsdale, Arizona, explain what to do when you accidentally skip a birth control pill.

First things first

Before we dive into an action plan, you should take a few things into consideration. If you’re taking a combination pill and you miss a dosage, your first steps depend on the following:

  • How many pills you’ve missed (a pill is considered missed when it’s been more than 24 hours since you should have taken it)
  • When you missed your pill
  • Which type of pill you’re taking.

Birth control pills are powerful little tablets. Inside, they contain hormones that stop sperm from fertilizing an egg. Most birth control pills are combination pills that contain both estrogen and progestin and protect you from pregnancy as long as you take your pill every single day. It’s a common misconception that you have to take them at the exact same time every day. It doesn’t matter when you take it, but having a set time can make it easier to remember.

Progestin-only pills are a bit different. They contain only progestin, and you must take them at the same time every day, within a three-hour window. If you miss one of these pills, you should consult the patient information leaflet for more direction.

Here’s a closer look at a couple of the most common birth control pill blunders and what to do about them.

You missed one pill

If you missed only one pill anywhere in your pack or started a new pack a day late, rest assured that you’re still protected against pregnancy. You should take the last pill you missed right away, even if it means taking two pills in one day. Carry on taking the rest of the pack as you normally would.

You missed two or more pills

If you’ve missed two or more pills anywhere in your pack or started a new pack two or more days late, know that your protection against pregnancy could be affected. Start by:

  • Taking the last pill you missed right away, even if it means taking two in one day
  • Leaving any earlier missed pills
  • Taking the rest of the pack as usual
  • Using extra contraception, such as condoms, for at least the next seven days

At the end of your pill pack, you have two options, depending on how many pills are left. If seven or more pills are left after the last missed pill, finish the pack as you normally would. If there are fewer than seven pills, finish the pack and start a new pack the next day (this means skipping your seven-day inactive week).

When all else fails

If you’re not sure what to do, the best thing to do is continue taking your pills. We also recommend that you use another method of contraception for a little, while just to be safe. You can always give us a call to get advice, too.

Have more questions or concerns about your birth control pills? Our experienced and friendly team is standing by to answer them all. Call or click to schedule an appointment with us today.

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