You just realized that you forgot to take your birth control pill.
We have some words of advice for you: Don’t panic.
We’ve got the information you need to help you if you’ve missed a birth control pill.
There are many effective forms of birth control, but for them to truly be effective, they must be taken as directed. That’s why we want to establish a relationship with you as members of your health care team. This enables us to create a contraception plan that is right for you.
“Many are very worried after a missed birth control pill, but the solution can be quite simple,” said Melinda Everett, NP. “However, it may vary depending upon the type of contraception you’re using and at what point in your cycle you missed a dose. That’s why we would like to speak to you and provide individualized instructions.”
“The important aspect is to take action as soon as you realize you’ve skipped a pill,” Dr. Ann Miller said. “If you miss the following period, we encourage you to come in for a pregnancy test.”
What to do if You’ve Missed a Birth Control Pill
If you’ve missed one pill:
Take the missed dosage as soon as you remember it. Go ahead and take the next tablet at your usual time. (It’s okay to take two tablets in one day.) After that, it’s important to continue your regular schedule.
Because it sometimes takes a while for hormonal pills to be fully effective, we suggest using an additional birth control method until you’ve been on your regular pill schedule for seven days.
If you’ve missed two pills:
Again, you should take the missed pill(s) as soon as possible. Then, continue your regular schedule. It’s okay to take two pills on the same day. Throw out the pills that you missed.
Remember, once again, you should use back-up birth control while the contraception takes effect.
Does It Matter Where I Am in My Pack When I Miss a Pill?
The last week of your hormonal pills are days 15-21 of a 28-day pill pack.
If you’ve missed a birth control pill during this week, you need to finish your pack a little differently.
Keep taking the rest of the hormone-containing pills. Skip the placebo (sugar) pills, and start the next pack. This means that you will “skip” your period, but you may have some break-through bleeding.
Regardless of bleeding, just keep taking the active pills until the end of the second pack.
You should also use a second form of contraception like abstinence or condoms for at least 7 days.
How Do Birth Control Pills Work?
To fully understand what happens when you miss a dose, it’s often helpful to understand how this form of contraception works.
The pill utilizes the hormones of estrogen and progestin. Some birth control pills have both these hormones while others only have progestin.
- Stops ovulation
- Thins the lining of the uterus. This means that fertilized eggs are not as likely to attach to the uterine wall.
- Thickens cervical mucus. This prevents sperm from entering the uterus.
What Are the Most Common Side Effects From Taking the Pill?
Many of these side effects go away after a cycle or two, and some of the most common include:
- Tender or swollen breasts
- Spotting between periods
What If I’m Having Side Effects From the Pill?
In general, side effects typically improve after a few months. However, any time you are having side effects from taking the pill—or any form of birth control–we encourage you to talk to us. Working together, we can find the most appropriate and effective form of birth control.
Are Birth Control Pills Right for You?
If you find yourself continually missing doses, maybe it’s time to consider another form of contraception. We have several options available. We realize no one form of birth control is appropriate for everyone. If you need details, we’ll be happy to discuss alternatives to the pill with you.
Some of these alternatives include:
These are becoming one of the most common forms of birth control due to their convenience and the fact that they provide birth control for up to 10 years. There are different types of IUDs. Some release copper ions while others release a type of progestin. These prevent the sperm from reaching an egg.
This is a small rod the size of a match that is placed underneath your upper arm skin. It provides birth control for three years.
Birth control patches
These are easy to use and typically one patch will last for seven days.
Birth control shots
Injections such as Depo-Provera provide birth control that typically lasts for three months.
These rings release hormones that prevent or suppress ovulation, and they should typically be in place for three weeks.
One of the main advantages of condoms is that they can protect you from sexually transmitted diseases. We would like to remind you that the forms of birth control listed above do not provide this type of protection.
Therefore, we recommend that even if you are on a different form of birth control, you should still use a condom to reduce your chance of developing an STD.
If you are sure that you don’t want to have children, we also offer permanent birth control options that are straightforward and successful.
One of the most common forms of permanent birth control is a tubal ligation, known as “getting your tubes tied.” We also believe that the ideal form of birth control is to discuss a vasectomy with your partner. It’s incredibly effective and can be performed under local anesthesia.
What to Consider When Choosing Birth Control
Still not sure what method is best for you? Don’t worry. We’ll work with you and talk you through every option. We did want to include a few things you should consider.
Some methods, such as the IUD and implants are more effective, resulting in less than one pregnancy per 100 women annually. Other techniques, such as natural family planning, condoms and withdrawal can result in 18 or more pregnancies per 100 women. (Centers for Disease Control).
Ease of Use
As we mentioned earlier, if you’re having difficulty remembering your birth control pills, it may be time to consider another method. Remember that with certain forms of birth control, such as diaphragms, we will need to fit you.
Prescription or Over-the-Counter
There are some methods of birth control such as condoms that are available without prescriptions. However, you’ll have to evaluate this on a case-by-case basis balancing effectiveness with convenience.
Protection from Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Remember that while birth control forms like the IUD are very effective, they do not protect you against sexually transmitted infections like herpes, gonorrhea and HIV. Even if you are on birth control pills, we encourage you to make sure you are protected from STDs.
Chapel Hill OBGYN: Here to Help You With Contraception
Now, patients have more options for effective birth control than ever. Our goal is to work with you to not only provide the best in reproductive health but also ensure you’re in great general health as well.
We offer both in-office and telehealth appointments. Please contact us for more information.
For more than 40 years, Chapel Hill OBGYN has served patients in the Triangle area, sharing the joy of little miracles and supporting them during challenges. Our board-certified physicians and certified nurse midwives bring together the personal experience and convenience of a private practice with the state-of-the-art resources found at larger organizations. To schedule an appointment, please contact us for more information.