Can I get pregnant if I forget one Birth Control pill?

Birth control pills are a widely used form of contraception globally, with high efficacy rates when taken correctly. However, missing a pill or taking it at the wrong time can decrease its effectiveness and increase the risk of pregnancy.


Further, it also depends on several factors, such as the type of pill, the number of missed active tablets, and the duration since your last pill intake. For instance, missing an active combination contraceptive pill may slightly increase the risk of pregnancy, but even if you take it at the wrong time, some of the drugs will still be present in your body which is elaborated in the following paragraphs of this blog.


Let’s explore the risks associated with forgetting one birth control pill, how it affects different types of pills, and what you can do to minimize such risks. 


How do Birth Control Pills Work?


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Before we delve into the risks of missing a pill, it’s crucial to understand how contraception pills work. These pills contain synthetic hormones, such as estrogen and progestin, which work together to prevent ovulation, or the release of an egg from the ovaries; thicken the cervical mucus, making it challenging for sperm to reach the egg; and thin the lining of the uterus, making it difficult for a fertilized egg to implant and grow.


When taken correctly, birth control pills are highly effective, with a failure rate of less than 1% per year. But missing a pill can reduce its effectiveness and increase the chances of pregnancy.


The Risks of Forgetting One Birth Control Pill


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If you forget to take one pill, the risk of pregnancy is relatively low, but it still exists. The possibility of pregnancy depends on the type of pill you are taking, the number of pills missed, and the timing of the missed pill. 


Missing a combination pill, which contains estrogen and progestin, increases the risk of pregnancy slightly but not significantly. If you miss taking an active combination contraceptive pill (a type of birth control pill that contains both estrogen and progestin), the risk of getting pregnant will slightly increase. The active pills in combination with contraceptive pills are the ones that contain hormones and are responsible for preventing pregnancy.       


However, even if you take the pill at the wrong time (for example, taking it a few hours late), some of the drugs (hormones) from the pill will still be present in your body. This means that there is still some level of contraceptive protection, although it may be slightly reduced as compared to taking the pill consistently and at the correct time.


It’s important to note that missing pills or taking them at the wrong time can decrease the effectiveness of the contraceptive and increase the risk of pregnancy. If you are using combination contraceptive pills, it’s advised to follow the prescribed schedule and take the pills consistently to maximize their effectiveness. 


On the other hand, missing a mini-pill, which only contains progestin, increases your chances of getting pregnant, although the chances are still low. It means that when you miss taking a mini-pill, the absence of progestin in your system can increase the possibility of pregnancy. 


Progestin plays a crucial role in preventing pregnancy by thickening the cervical mucus, thinning the uterine lining, and inhibiting ovulation. Therefore, missing a mini-pill can disrupt these mechanisms and potentially allow for ovulation and fertilization to occur.


However, it’s important to note that even if you miss a mini-pill, the chances of getting pregnant are still relatively low compared to not using any form of contraception. The progestin from previously taken pills may still provide some contraceptive effect, and the overall effectiveness of the mini-pill in preventing pregnancy is relatively high when taken correctly.


Extended-cycle contraceptive pills are also a popular choice among women who want to avoid monthly periods. These pills contain 84 active tablets and seven low-dose estrogen or inactive tablets, which equates to four packs per year.


By taking low-dose estrogens in the last seven tablets, it’s possible to minimize the negative side effects of a hormone-free interval, such as bloating and bleeding. 


The risk of pregnancy also depends on when you forget to take the pill during your cycle. Missing a pill in the first week of the pack increases your chances of pregnancy more than forgetting pills in the middle of the pack. This is because your system is already depleted of hormones after a seven-day absence.


If you miss several pills in a row, your chances of getting pregnant increase significantly, especially in the last half of your pack or at the start of a new pack. In such cases, it’s advisable to use emergency contraception or contact nearby women’s health clinic.


Reducing the Risks of Forgetting One Birth Control Pill


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To reduce the risk of forgetting one pill, you can take several measures, such as:

  1. Setting reminders: You can use an application on your phone, an alarm, or a calendar to remind you to take your pill at the same time every day. You can also keep your pill pack in a visible and accessible place, such as your nightstand or your purse.


  1. Using a backup method: You can use a backup method of contraception, such as condoms or a diaphragm, for the first seven days of taking a new pill pack or if you miss a pill by more than 24 hours.


  1. Taking advantage of the placebo pills: If you are taking a combination pill, you can use the placebo pills, which are inactive pills, as a reminder to take your pill every day. The placebo pills are usually colored differently from the active pills and are taken during the fourth week of the pack.


  1. Consider alternative methods: If you find it challenging to remember to take a daily pill, discuss alternative contraceptive methods with your healthcare provider. There are various options available, such as long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), which provide effective contraception for an extended period without requiring the consumption of daily pills.


Summing Up

To be precise, missing one birth control pill can increase the risk of pregnancy, but the possibility depends on the type of pill, the number of pills missed, and the timing of the missed pill. To reduce the risks of forgetting one pill, you can use reminders, backup methods, placebo pills, and consult your healthcare provider. If you do forget a pill, take it as soon as possible and follow the steps outlined above for each type of pill to minimize the risk of pregnancy. You may also contact an expert at Her Smart Choice to avoid any consequences. 

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