One of the important pieces of advice that your doctor will give you when you start taking birth control pills is that you should take your pill at the same time every day. Why is this so important and what happens if you are late taking your contraceptive pill?
How Timing Affects Your Birth Control Pills
- Birth control pills are designed to be taken at the same time every day, so this will ensure that your contraception is as effective as possible
- Taking the pill at the same time every day can also make it easier to remember, especially if you fit it in with other daily activities such as cleansing your face or getting your bag ready for work
- Timing is most important if you are taking the mini pill or progestogen only pill as the active ingredient doesn’t remain in the body as long as the oestrogen in the combined pill. If you are more than three hours late taking your mini pill, all of the progestogen could have left your system leaving you at risk of getting pregnant. You should keep taking your pills but use another form of contraception (such as condoms) for 48 hours.
- You should still be protected if you are late taking the combined pill as the effects will last for longer than 24 hours, but if you miss more than one pill (i.e. you are 48 hours late) then you could be at risk. You should continue taking your pills but use extra contraception for a week.
- If you have had sex after taking your pill late or missing a pill then you should get emergency contraception within 72 hours to prevent pregnancy.
You can always consult your doctor if you have any worries about your contraception or you aren’t sure that you are using it correctly. If you have trouble taking the pill at the same time every day you might also want to consider switching to a different form of contraception that doesn’t need to be taken every day such as a contraceptive implant, Mirena IUS or IUCD.