What Happens If I Miss A Birth Control Pill – It’s inevitable: Everyone who uses oral contraceptives has forgotten to take the pill at some point. (If you haven’t, kudos to you.) Some days the hustle and bustle of life takes over and you forget to take a pill from a small pill pack. Anyone who has experienced this common memory loss
You know what it’s like to remember you’ve lost a tool—a gut-wrenching realization that usually results in a few curse words. But what should you do when you realize you’ve missed your birth control pills?
What Happens If I Miss A Birth Control Pill
To answer common questions about forgetting to take birth control pills, we talked to two women’s health experts: New York-based gynecologist Dr. Alyssa Dweck, MS, MD, FACOG And Dr. Sophia Yen, M.D., M.P.H. , Co-Founder and CEO of Pandya Health.
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To understand what happens when you skip birth control pills, you first need to understand how birth control pills work. First, there are many different types of oral contraceptives. The most common type is the combined pill, which contains estrogen and a synthetic version of progestin, or progesterone, and is used by women who want to reduce acne, birth control, menstrual cramps, or migraines. Then there are mini-pills (progestin-only pills) taken by women who are breastfeeding (as estrogen can reduce their milk supply) or by women with certain medical conditions, such as blood clots or liver disease.
When you take combined or progestin-only pills, it changes the natural amount of the hormone that your body already produces. High levels of these hormones prevent women from ovulating, thicken cervical mucus to prevent sperm from entering the uterus, and thin the lining of the uterus, making it less likely that an egg will attach and fertilize. Combined birth control pills work by maintaining your hormones, Dr. Yen says. During the first ten weeks of pregnancy, hormone levels double every two days, so birth control hormones mimic this increase. “It tricks your body into thinking you’re pregnant, so it doesn’t want to release the egg and grow in the lining of your uterus.”
However, 40% of women taking the mini-pill continue to ovulate, a major difference from the combined pill. Combined pills take a full week to prevent pregnancy, with one exception: If you start taking the pill five days after the first day of your period, it’s effective the same day. On the other hand, mini pills work within 48 hours of entering your system.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, women typically ovulate, or release an egg from the ovaries, 12 to 16 days after their period. The egg lives for about 12 to 24 hours after release, during which time it can be fertilized. Dr. As Yen mentioned above, taking birth control pills can increase the amount of estrogen and progestin in your body, so you won’t ovulate and therefore can’t get pregnant.
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“Because combined birth control pills prevent ovulation, this means that conception and pregnancy are unlikely,” Dr. Dweck explains. “However, if you miss more than two doses of the pill, the normal hormonal signals from the pill that tell the ovaries not to ovulate are interrupted and ovulation occurs.”
If you miss a pill, the side effects are minimal. “Missing a pill is not a problem other than a possible spot, which is annoying and nothing to worry about,” says Dr. Dweck. Therefore, if you miss a pill and have sex, do not panic, because the chances of getting pregnant are very low. But if you miss two or more pills—which means you may ovulate—Dr. Dweck says, “You should use a backup method of birth control until you’re back on track (if you start a new form of birth control), especially since birth control is only 99% effective when you’re on the pill.
The answer depends on how many pills you missed. If you miss just one pill, Dr. Yen and Dr. Dweck also recommends eating it as soon as you remember. This means you take the pill at a different time than usual. It shouldn’t affect your body or the pill’s effectiveness too much (except for spotting, which can be caused by doubling up on hormones).
“If you notice you’ve missed a pill when you’re supposed to, take the missed pill and the day pill at the same time,” Dr. Yen advises. “You don’t want to take more than two pills at once because it can make you feel sick or have too many hormones at once.”
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If you forget to take more than two tablets, do not take all the missed tablets at once. Instead, Dr. Yen says, “Take two now, catch two the next day.” If you miss birth control pills for five or more days, she recommends starting over and opening a new pack of pills. However, if you are unsure how to proceed after missing several pills or need further medical guidance, please consult your OB-GYN as every body is different. If you’ve ever skipped birth control pills in a panic, you’re not alone. Life gets busy and sometimes we forget to take that little pill.
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Ob/Gyn Ashley Brant, DO, MPH, discusses what to do if you forget to take the pill, your chances of pregnancy, and other side effects.
First, you need to find out what type of pill you are taking. There are two main types of pills:
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Take the pill as soon as you remember. Then take the remaining tablets as usual. It may mean taking two pills a day to stay on schedule. There is usually no need for birth control or emergency contraception. However, if you’ve missed taking pills in the same pack before, you should consider using a backup method of protection, such as a condom.
Take the last missed pill as soon as you remember. Then continue taking the remaining tablets as usual. For example, if it’s Wednesday and you miss both Monday and Tuesday pills, take Tuesday’s pill right away and Wednesday’s pill at the usual time. Use back-up contraception or avoid sex until you have taken the hormone pill for seven consecutive days. If you have had unprotected sex in the past five days, consider using emergency contraception.
If you miss three or more days or more than 48 hours have passed since taking the pill, you will not be protected against pregnancy. Consider emergency contraception if you have had unprotected sex in the past five days or missed the pill in the first week of taking the pack.
If you missed pills in the previous week of hormone pills (for example, 15-21 days in a 28-day pack), skip the hormone-free interval, stop the hormone pills in the current pack and start a new pack the next day. . If you can’t start a new pack right away, use birth control or avoid sexual activity until you have taken hormone pills from a new pack for seven consecutive days.
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Progestin-only pills are very time sensitive. A tablet is considered lost if it is more than three hours after taking it. Missing a pill means that you may be pregnant.
Progestin-only pills thicken cervical mucus, making it harder for sperm to reach the uterus. Cervical mucus thickening lasts about two days after a missed pill, so progestin-only pills are recommended as backup or emergency contraception.
The general rule of thumb for combination pills is to consider a safe window of 24 to 48 hours, Dr. Brant says. You can catch missed pills before then, but after this time you are not protected against pregnancy.
If you’ve missed three or more days or haven’t taken the pill within 48 hours and have had unprotected sex in the last five days, it’s best to call your doctor and use emergency contraception.
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“It’s never a bad idea to see your provider if you’re confused about which pills to take or what to do if you miss a few days,” Dr. Brant says. “They can help you decide what to do next.”
If you’re taking birth control pills for reasons of preventing pregnancy (like reducing cramps or controlling acne breakouts), you don’t need to do anything but get back on track. Skipping pills for a few days usually doesn’t affect the other
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