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Remembering to take your contraceptive pills on a regular schedule can be hard. What would you do if you forgot to pop that tiny little pill? Don’t panic, here’s what you should know.
In this article, we will cover the proper ways to take the pills and what to do about missed pills.
Combined oral contraceptive pills contain the hormone estrogen and progestin. Generally, the pills should be taken for 21 consecutive days followed by 7 days of hormone-free break in which you do not take pills or you take hormone-free placebo pills. Some preparations such as 24/4 regimen are even more convenient whereby you take one pill a day without any pill-free days. Meanwhile, progestin-only pills must be taken at the same time every day without any hormone-free break.
It is important to know that all types of oral contraceptive pills work best if taken according to schedule and at the same time each day. Improper way of taking the pills is a major reason for unintended pregnancies. Missing pills might increase the chance of ovulation and make sperm easier to travel through cervical mucus. If you tend to forget to take your pills, set an alarm on your phone or use a calendar reminder to help you remember.
For combined oral contraceptive pills
If one pill has been missed (<48 hours since your scheduled pill time),
Take the forgotten pill as soon as you remember and continue taking the next pills on your regular schedule. This may mean taking 2 pills on the same day (1 when you remember and 1 at the usual time). For example: You forgot to take the pill on Monday and it’s now Tuesday. So, you have to take the Monday and Tuesday pills on the same day to get back on track.
No additional contraceptive protection is needed.
Emergency contraception is not usually needed but can be considered it if hormonal pills were missed earlier in your cycle or in the last week of the previous cycle.
If two or more pills have been missed (≥48 hours since your scheduled pill time),
Take the last pill you missed as soon as you remember and discard other missed pills. Continue taking the next pills on your regular schedule. This may mean taking 2 pills on the same day (1 when you remember and 1 at the usual time). For example: You forgot to take the pills on Monday and Tuesday and it’s now Wednesday (in other words, it has been 72 or more hours since your last active pill). So, you have to take the Tuesday and Wednesday pills on the same day and throw away the Monday pill.
Use back-up contraception such as condoms / avoid sexual intercourse until you have taken the pills for 7 days in a row.
If the two or more pills you missed were in the third week (days 15-21 of a 28-day pack),
Omit the hormone-free break by finishing the hormone pills in the current pack and starting a new pack the next day.
If you are unable to start a new pack immediately, use back-up contraception such as condoms / avoid sexual intercourse until you have taken the pills from a new pack for 7 days in a row.
Emergency contraception should be considered if hormonal pills were missed during the first week and unprotected sexual intercourse occurred in the previous 5 days.
Emergency contraception may also be considered at other times as appropriate.
For progestin-only pills
If you are less than 3 hours late taking the pill,
Take the forgotten pill as soon as you remember.
Continue taking the next pills on your regular schedule
If you are more than 3 hours late taking the pill,
Take your missed pill as soon as possible (only take 1, even if you have missed more than 1 pill)
Continue taking the next pills on your regular schedule.
Use back-up contraception / avoid sexual intercourse until you have taken the pills correctly for two days in a row.
Emergency contraception should be considered if you have unprotected sex during the two days after you miss your pill
*These tips are meant to be general guidelines and may vary depending on the type of oral contraceptive pills and other factors. Always follow the specific directions listed in your package insert for missed pills. If you are still unsure, kindly consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
Now we have reached the end of the article. Hopefully, this article gives you more insight and knowledge on how to take oral contraceptive pills. Do you still have any questions regarding OCPs? Consult our online pharmacists for free HERE! You can also get your OCPs sent to you WITHOUT delivery fees. What's more, you can get a FREE OXWHITE premium cloth mask when you purchase OCPs from us today!
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