Forgetting to take the Contraceptive Pill


Combined Contraceptive Pill »

The main cause of pregnancy whilst on the contraceptive pill is failing to use the pill correctly or forgetting to take it. Usually, if you have forgotten the pill just once, then you will still be protected from pregnancy but if you do so more than once, you will not be protected.  It all depends when you forgot to take the pill and how many you forgot to take. The pill is classified as late if you have not taken it at your correct time of the day and classed as a missed pill if it has been more than 24 hours.

Missing one pill

Essentially, you should still be protected from pregnancy, as missing just one pill should not affect the effectiveness of the pill. When you have realized you have missed the pill, take the missed one as soon as you notice and continue on as normal. This may mean that you are taking two pills in one day but you shouldn’t need additional contraception. However some brands of the contraceptive pill will not be effective at protecting you from pregnancy if you do miss a pill so read the patient information leaflet carefully.

Missing two or more pills

If you miss more than one pill, you run the risk of reducing the effectiveness of the pill at protecting you from pregnancy.  You should take the last missed pill and ignore the other ones that you have missed. Therefore you may be taking two in one day. As you have missed more than one, there is a risk of pregnancy so you should wear additional contraception for seven days and remember to take your pill every day at the correct time.  If you have had unprotected sex in the time frame that you have forgotten to take the pill, you may need to get emergency contraception.

Missing pills at the start of the pack

If you have missed two or more pills at the start of the pack, then follow the instructions above, taking the last missed pill and wearing additional contraception for seven days. You should continue your cycle as normal and have your withdrawal bleed after 21 days.

Missing pills at the end of the pack

If you have missed two or more pills and there are less than seven pills left until your withdrawal bleed then you will need to carry on with the next pack straight away. Once you have finished your current pack, start the next pack, which will mean you will miss a withdrawal bleed. You must also wear additional contraception for seven days.


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