If you miss a pill of your birth control, you should take the forgotten pill as soon as you remember, so that you can continue to reduce the risk of pregnancy.
However, regardless of the type of birth control, whether you take 21, 24 or 28-day pack, forgetting one or more pills, can reduce the effectiveness of the contraceptive. This is especially true if you forget a pill in the first week.
It is important to take your birth control pills as advised by your gynecologist. If you suspect you may have become pregnant while taking the pill, you should consult your doctor. If you often forget to take the pill, she should consider using another method of contraception. You are advised to discuss different birth control options with your gynecologist to choose the most appropriate one for you.
Forgetting a 21 or 24-day pill
21 or 24-day pack pills typically contain hormones like estrogen and progesterone. If you forget to take one of the pills in the first 12 hours of the regular dose time, you can take the forgotten pill as soon as you remember, without any risk of getting pregnant.
If more than 12 hours from your dose time passes, you are advised to do the following:
- Pill forgotten in the 1st week: Take it as soon as you remember and the next pill at the usual time. Use a condom for the next 7 days. There is a risk of pregnancy if you have had sex in the previous week.
- Pill forgotten in the 2nd week: Take it as soon as you remember, even if you have to take 2 pills together. There's no need to use a condom and there's no risk of getting pregnant.
- At the end of the pack: Take the pill as soon as you remember and continue with the pack as normal, but amend it with the next pack, immediately afterwards, without menstruating.
Generally, a woman runs the risk of becoming pregnant if she forgets to take the pill in the first week of the pack and if she has had sexual intercourse in the previous 7 days. In the 2nd or 3rd weeks, the risk of pregnancy is lower if the woman has taken it correctly in the previous weeks.
It is important to note that birth control pills do not prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so it is important to always use a condom during sex. Learn more about the most common STIs and the symptoms associated with them.
Forgetting a 28-day pill
If you forget to take a pill in a 28-day pack, you should the forgotten doses as soon as you remember to reduce the risk of pregnancy.
If you forget to take the pill for more than 3 hours after the intended time, take it as soon as you remember, and be sure to use a condom for the next 7 days to prevent pregnancy.
Forgetting to take the continuous use pill
In the case of the continuous-use pill in the first 12 hours of the intended time, you should take the forgotten pill as soon as you remember. Then take the next pills at the usual time. In these cases, the contraceptive effect of the pill is maintained and there is no risk of becoming pregnant.
If you forget the dose for more than 12 hours, you should take the pill immediately, as soon as you remember, even if you have to take two pills on the same day. Then take the next pills at the usual time. In this case, the contraceptive effect of the pill is reduced and you should use another contraceptive method, such as a condom, for the next 7 days.
The protection of the continuous-use pill can be reduced if there is a gap of more than 36 hours between two pills, and there is a greater chance of getting pregnant if you forget a dose in the first week of the pack.
What if I forgot to take my birth control for 1 or more days?
See the recommendations below on what to do for one or more forgotten doses:
1. Forgetting to take the first pill of the pack
When you need to start a new pack, you have up to 24 hours to start the pack without having to worry. You don't need to use a condom in the next few days, but there is a risk of getting pregnant if you had sex the week before.
If you only remember to start the pack 48 hours after the intended date, there is a risk of getting pregnant, so you should use a condom for the next 7 days.
If you are more than 48 hours late, you should not start the pack and wait for your period to come and start a new pack on the first day of your period. You should use a condom while waiting for your next period.
2. Forgetting 2, 3 or more pills in a row
If you miss 2 or more pills in the same pack, there is a risk of getting pregnant, which is why you should use a condom for the next 7 days. There is also a risk of getting pregnant if you have had sexual intercourse in the previous week. In any case, you should continue taking the pills as normal until you finish the pack.
If you miss 2 pills in the 2nd week, you can leave the pack for 7 days and start a new pack on the 8th day.
If you miss 2 pills in the 3rd week, you can leave the pill for 7 days and start a new pill on the 8th day OR continue with the current pill and then amend it with the next pill.
When to take the morning-after pill
The morning-after pill is an emergency contraceptive that can be used up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. However, it should not be used habitually because it has a high hormone concentration and can alter a woman's menstrual cycle. Read more about the morning-after pill and how to take it.
How to know if I'm pregnant
If you've forgotten to take the pill, there's a risk of getting pregnant. The risk depends on how long you have gone without taking birth control, which pills were missed and the type of birth control you were on.
Therefore, to rule out pregnancy, you need to take a pregnancy test, which can be a blood or urine test. It is recommended that the pregnancy test be carried out at least 5 weeks after the day you forgot to take the pill, as this will allow for a sufficient amount of beta-HCG hormone to build-up in the blood.
You can also monitor for early pregnancy symptoms, which can appear before your period is late. You can also take our online pregnancy test to find out to determine your risk for pregnancy: