You slipped up and missed a birth control pill. Now what do you do? First things first, don’t panic. There are steps you can take to make sure you’re not at risk for an unintended pregnancy. A pregnancy due to missing a pill averages 1 to 2 pregnancies per 100 women. The action required for missing a birth control pill varies from the number of pills missed and which pill you missed. These steps apply to women who take combined hormonal birth control pills.
Missed One Active (Hormonal) Pill
As soon as you realize you missed one pill, take the missed pill immediately and then continue with the rest of the pack as usual. If you plan on having sex, no additional contraceptive or back-up method is needed, such as condoms. However, birth control pills do not protect from sexually transmitted diseases, and a condom should be used if such protection is needed. An emergency contraceptive, aka the morning after pill, is not needed in this situation.
Missed Two or More Active (Hormonal) Pills
Take two pills as soon as possible. If you find that you missed two or more pills ranging in the third week of your pack, continue taking the active pills on a daily basis. When you have finished the active pills in the pack, discard the inactive (non-hormonal) or placebo pills and start with a fresh pack. A back-up contraceptive method is needed in this situation. Use a condom or abstain from sex until you have taken one pill for seven days in a row. If you had unprotected sex within the past seven days or missed two or more pills during the first week, consider using an emergency contraceptive for maximum protection. If you decided to use an emergency contraceptive, you should still take that day’s scheduled pill.
Missed One or More Inactive (Non-hormonal) PillsDiscard the inactive pill that you missed and take the next one at your usual time the following day. A back-up contraceptive is not necessary in this situation and neither is an emergency contraceptive pill.
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