It’s 5pm and you’re on your way home, but you can’t help feeling like you’ve forgotten something.
The feeling eventually subsides and you crash out on your bed, just before you see the crumpled blister pack on your bedside table.
You forgot to take The Pill this morning.
It’s a super common mishap, with over 50% of women forgetting to take The Pill once a month or more in a 2012 study from the UK. And what’s worse? Over a quarter of Aussie women on hormonal contraception weren’t told by their GP what to do if they forget it.
Dr Google doesn’t help much either, so we’ve simplified things to help answer all your questions about what to do if you miss The Pill.
If you’re taking a progestin-only birth control pill like Microlut or Noriday, it’s especially important to make sure you take it at the same time each day.
If you’re less than three hours late:
If you’re more than three hours late:
If you’re on one of these Pills, check the info sheet with the package or click the links above to find out what to do.
If you’re less than 24 hours late:
If you’re more than 24 hours late:
If you’re more than 24 hours late and have less than seven hormone pills left in your pack:
You might need to consider emergency contraception if you had unprotected sex in the last seven days and you either:
Two types of emergency contraceptive pill are available from a pharmacist without prescription. Talk with the pharmacist or your GP to discuss which is better for you.
There are over 30 different pills with varying hormone levels on the market, and they can all affect each woman differently. If you’ve decided to switch things up, it’s important to take extra care to make sure you’re protected from pregnancy during the changeover.
When you finish the last active pill in your old pack, skip the sugar pills and go straight on to the new pack. To be safe, it’s best to use additional contraception, like condoms, for the first seven days.
Sometimes you can be doing everything right, but things just don’t go your way. If you vomit within 3-4 hours, or have severe diarrhoea after taking The Pill, it may not have time to be absorbed properly.
If this happens, it’s not a big deal, but it’s important to take precautions to make sure you’re still protected from pregnancy. Just treat it as if you’ve missed a pill, as we covered above in this article.
Did you know it’s completely safe to take The Pill continuously? Not only can you skip your periods, it can also help reduce symptoms of PMS and endometriosis. We wrote something about it if you’d like to learn more.
The most common side effect of continuous or extended pill-taking is spotting or breakthrough bleeding. This decreases over time, and most women stop bleeding entirely within one year.
However, if you do experience any serious breakthrough bleeding where pads or tampons are needed for three days or more, you should take a break for 4-7 days before resuming The Pill. You’ll still be protected from falling pregnant, so long as you take The Pill for at least seven days following the break.
Don’t worry about it! This won’t affect your chance of falling pregnant. However you might want to throw it out anyway to avoid accidentally extending the hormone-free period.
Everyone forgets things from time to time, but remembering to take medication can be harder for some people than others. If you’re finding this is happening too often, here are some strategies to help you remember:
If none of these are working for you, you might want to consider if The Pill is the right option for you. Check out our guide on choosing the right contraception, and talk to a medical professional if you have any questions.