The birth control pill is one of the most reliable methods of birth control available. If taken properly, fewer than 1 in a100 women will bet pregnant. This translates into being 99% effective.
Unfortunately, one of the few downsides of using the pill is that you have to be insanely consistent in taking it. For maximum effectiveness, you’ll need to take your birth control every day at the same time of day. Missing days will decrease the pills effectiveness to around 92%. Still pretty damn awesome, but not so much if you happen to get pregnant.
Though most of us are successful incorporating the pill into our daily routine, life does, at times, get in the way. So, with that in mind, here are some helpful tips in case you do miss taking your birth control pill.
Be Cognizant of the Type of Birth Control Pill You are Taking
This is important. Different formulations will stay in your system for different lengths of time. The two most common types of pills are the “combination” pill and the “mini” pill. The combination pill contains the hormones estrogen and progestin, while the mini pill only contains progestin.
If you are taking a mini pill and miss a dose, have condoms handy as a backup plan. You could ovulate as soon as three hours after a missed dosage.
This is the standard operating procedure for combination pills. If you miss taking your birth control pill at the time you usually do ( the pill is most effective if taken at the same time of day), take it as soon as you remember. If you miss a day, take two the following day. This will keep you on schedule. If you miss two days, remember to take two the first day, then two the next day. The hormones from combination pills stay in your system longer. Hormone levels will dip if you miss a dose, but the chances of ovulation remain low, especially the first week after your initial cycle.
If you miss more than two days worth of pills, you should call your doctor to let them know. The type of pill (monophasic or multiphasic) and when you missed your dosage will determine if you finish the old pack or start a new one.
If you miss the dosages mentioned above, it’s recommended that you finish the entire pack (pills with active ingredients) before resuming unprotected sex.
Placebos (Don’t) Really Matter When it comes to Pregnancy Risk
Many birth control pill packs come with placebo pills. These are basically the last 7, 4 or 2 sugar pills in the pack. They can be easily differentiated because they are a different color from the pills containing hormones. The only purpose of these pills serve is to keep you on schedule, so you won’t take your active pill on the wrong day. These pills have no affect on your hormone levels, so if you miss taking them, it’s okay. If you do miss taking one or more of your sugar pills, mark the date that you start your new pack so you will stay on schedule, I can’t stress this enough.
As always, if you have questions, contact your primary care physician. Another great option for information is the Planned Parenthood Sexual Health and Counseling Hotline.
And remember, knowledge is power, because any decision you make here can have life-altering ramifications.