Is It Safe to Skip the Placebo Birth Control Pills?

Is It Safe to Skip the Placebo Birth Control Pills?

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.

I’ve heard that skipping the placebo pills on my birth control is safe but are there any risks?

The most common birth control pill pack consists of 28 small tablets that are taken each and every day, and when the 28 pills are finished, a new pack starts up again. The active pills, containing estrogen and progesterone, are taken during the first 21 to 24 days depending on the brand. The remaining four to seven pills are called “placebo” pills since they do not contain any hormones. Sometimes the placebos are sugar pills, while others are iron tablets. The main purpose of the placebos is to remind you to take a pill every day.  It’s easy to forget or skip pills, so when you are in the habit of taking a pill every day you are more likely to be consistent and compliant making the pill an effective birth control method.

There is another type of birth control pill which only has the hormone progesterone called the Mini-Pill. This particular pill has to be taken every day since it does not have any placebo pills.

There are no risks in skipping the placebo pills in a birth control pack. Skipping the placebos will not make the birth control pill any less effective in preventing pregnancy. The main risk is forgetting to start the next pill pack at the appropriate time and getting completely out of sync. Getting out of the routine of taking a daily pill can lead to irregular bleeding or an unplanned pregnancy!

It’s always recommended to discuss the risks and benefits of skipping any medications with your health care provider even if they are placebo pills.

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