What happens if I miss a few days of my birth control pill?

What happens if I miss a few days of my birth control pill?

Our expert: Dr. Sherry Ross

Sheryl A. Ross, M.D., “Dr. Sherry,” is an award-winning OBGYN, our go-to for pregnancy, postpartum, menopause and beyond. She’s practiced for 20+ years, recently won both a Top Ten OB/GYN & Patient’s Choice Award. She also has a line of custom vitamins made specially for women, Dr. Ross D3FY Vitamins.

What happens if I miss a few days of my birth control pill?

All of us have missed a pill or two or more…we are only human!

Let’s be clear: Birth control is only as effective as you are compliant.

Even though the birth control pill is 96% effective overall in preventing pregnancy, its effectiveness in preventing pregnancy may be dependent on how many pills you have forgotten to take throughout the month.  Ideally you want to take the pill every day as if it is part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth! Unfortunately, remembering to take one every day can be challenging for some.

Here is some helpful advice:

  • If you a miss one pill, take it as soon as you remember or take two pills (“double-up”) the next day.
  • If you miss two pills, take it as soon as you remember ordouble up” the next day and the following day.
  • If you miss three or more pills, it gets more complicated and you should contact your healthcare provider for next steps.  You will need a backup contraception until the end of the pill pack, such as a condom, if you have missed more than three pills in a row.

What side effects will you get if you miss a pill or two?

The most common side effects of skipping pills are irregular bleeding, spotting, cramping and pregnancy. Plus your “official” period will be out of sync, and irregular bleeding can last a couple of months while your body hormonally resets.

If you forget to take pills often, you might want to change to another form of birth control that you don’t have to take every day.  Examples would be long-acting contraception such as the IUD, Depo-Provera and Norplant implants. Another alternative is the Nuvaring, which is a flexible, plastic ring that is placed in the back of the vagina working like the birth control “pill,” with the exception that you leave it in place for 21 days and remove it for 7. These are great options for those of us who are forgetful!

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