One of the complaints we hear from women about the birth control pill is that they have a hard time remembering to take it every day. So what happens if you forget? Being even 12 hours late taking your birth control pill could increase your chances of getting pregnant. If you miss any of the first 21 pills in your pack, you need to use a backup method of birth control (condoms) until you have taken seven consecutive days of pills.
- If you miss one pill: Take it as soon as you remember. Take your next pill at the regular time.
- If you realize when taking your pill that you skipped one: Take the pill you skipped and the new one together. It's OK to take two pills at once.
- If you miss two pills: Take two pills each day for the next two days, and then go back to one pill each day at your usual time. You could get pregnant if you have unprotected sex for the next seven days, so make sure to use a backup method.
- If you forget to take one pill during the third week of your pill pack: Finish the pills for that week, skip the last week (inactive pills), and begin a new pack. Understand that you probably won't have another period until the fourth week of this new pill pack. Use a backup method of birth control until you have taken seven consecutive days of pills.
- If you forget three or more pills: Call your doctor for advice. She may suggest to take one pill daily until Sunday and then start a new pack, or to discard the rest of the pill pack and start over with a new pack that same day. Be sure to use a backup method of birth control each time you have sex because you are no longer protected against pregnancy. After you've had seven days of pills, then you are protected against pregnancy.
Advice: It's always a good idea to talk to your doctor if you have any questions. If you think there could be a chance that you are pregnant (and you don't want to be), emergency contraception (Plan B) is always an option. In the US, the morning-after pill is now available over the counter without a prescription for all ages.