TL;DR: Yes - you can get pregnant on the contraceptive pill.
That said, The Pill is still one of the most effective methods of contraception when used correctly.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the topic of whether or not you can get pregnant on The Pill, so you can lower your risk of unwanted pregnancy.
How can you get pregnant on The Pill?
When you first find out that you can get pregnant on The Pill, it’s a little shocking. After all, the reason you take contraception is so that you don’t get pregnant. To find out that you actually can do is a bit of a bummer.
The truth is that no contraceptive is 100 per cent foolproof. However, when taken correctly, The Pill is over 99 per cent effective and therefore one of the best contraceptives out there.
You can get pregnant on The Pill if you:
• Get sick and don’t properly ingest your contraceptive pill.
• Forget to take the contraceptive pill.
• Take the pill at a totally different time each day.
• Forget to start the new pack straight after a break.
• Take medication that interacts with The Pill.
How can you prevent getting pregnant on The Pill?
There are some simple precautions and tips you can follow to decrease the risk of getting pregnant on The Pill.
Remembering to take The Pill.
We know, we know - it sounds so obvious! However, this is one of the easiest ways to render The Pill ineffective. Try to take The Pill every day, and follow the instructions exactly as they are listed on the pack. When used absolutely perfectly, fewer than one woman in every thousand will get pregnant, which is a major incentive to remember to take it properly.
Take precautions if you miss a pill or vomit.
Even if you’re trying your absolute best to take The Pill correctly, life can get in the way sometimes. Missing a pill or vomiting while on The Pill isn’t a big deal, however if it does happen you need to remember to take precautions.
The time windows for missing The Pill are 24 hours for the combined pill and 3 hours for the progesterone only variety, so if you miss these windows you need to use protection or refrain from intercourse.
Likewise, if you’re sick, it's not worth the risk - use alternative contraception. You are able to take another pill after you vomit, and as long as you’re not sick again you’ll be protected. However, when the risk is unwanted pregnancy, the stakes are quite high.
There are official guidelines from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners for what to do if you miss your pill.
A "late" Pill means a Pill that has been taken less than 24 hours late. As soon as possible, take the "late" hormone pill, and then continue taking your prescription as usual. Yes, this means two pills can be taken on the same day, with no additional contraceptive required.
If you're beyond the 24 hour period, this is called a "missed Pill." If you're in this situation, you should still take your most recent pill, but then discard your previously missed pills. Then, continue taking The Pill as you regularly would, but keep in mind that additional contraceptive methods like condoms or not having sex at all are required until you have taken seven consecutive active pills.
Research the medication that interacts with The Pill.
If you’re on a new medication, your doctor should tell you whether it interacts with The Pill. More often than not, new medication won’t interact with The Pill, but to be on the safe side it’s worth looking into it yourself, or asking your doctor directly.
Take The Pill at a regular time each day.
Taking The Pill at a regular time each day will make it more reliable. Not only will you be more likely to remember to take it, you’ll also reduce the risk of hormone fluctuation and therefore keep your body on track.
Can you get pregnant if you vomit on The Pill?
Yes, in some cases you can get pregnant, even when you have taken The Pill, if you vomit.
This isn’t always the case, but often vomiting or diarrhoea will reduce the effectiveness of The Pill.
Here's a general rule: if you throw up within two hours of taking The Pill it won’t be absorbed into your system yet.
If that’s you, you may be at risk of unwanted pregnancy.
To avoid this, you should count each day of sickness as a missed pill day. You should continue to take The Pill as normal, however, if the sickness is ongoing you will need to use extra protection for up to a week.
If you're thinking about going on the contraceptive pill it’s important to consider the risk of pregnancy and the ways to limit it.