What Should I Do If I Forget to Take a Birth Control Pill?

Missed a birth control pill? Want to skip a period? Unsure what to do? We have answers for you!

What Should I Do If I Forget to Take a Birth Control Pill?

What Should I Do If I Forget to Take a Birth Control Pill?

One of our patients’ most frequently asked questions is what to do if you miss a birth control pill. The more consistently you take your contraceptive pill the more effective it will be. However, if you happen to miss a pill or don’t take it exactly on your normal schedule, the first thing you should do is take the pill as soon as you remember. This might mean taking two pills at the same time if you only realize you missed it when taking your next pill. If you miss taking a pill by a few hours or skip one pill and you are sexually active, you need to use a back-up method of birth control to minimize your risk of becoming pregnant. 

If you happen to miss two or more pills, it is important you take one pill as soon as you remember. We then recommend reading your specific contraceptive pill label and contact us immediately so that a Garden OB/GYN provider can advise you on how to take your other missed pills. If sexually active, you need to use a back-up method of birth control for at least a week to reduce your risk of getting pregnant. 

Emergency contraceptives may also be effective for preventing pregnancy if you have missed multiple days of taking your birth control pills and have unprotected sex. Missing a few birth control pills will likely make the birth control significantly less effective, which is why a back-up method is needed. If you have sexual intercourse when you have missed pills and do not use a back-up method of birth control, this is considered unprotected sex. 

Do Other Factors Make My Birth Control Less Effective?

Besides missing pills, a few other circumstances may make your birth control pill less effective. 

  • If you are taking any forms of antibiotics, your birth control may be less effective at preventing pregnancy. Throughout the course of your antibiotics, we, therefore, recommend using a back-up form of contraception, as well.
  • Some illnesses like diarrhea and vomiting may also reduce the birth control’s effectiveness so a back-up form of contraception is recommended while you are sick and for seven days after you are sick. 
  • Medications consisting of phenytoin and barbiturates, which are typically taken for epilepsy, or rifampin, which is typically taken for tuberculosis may also impact the effectiveness of oral contraceptives. We highly recommend talking to your Garden OB/GYN provider about all your medications and medical history before selecting the right contraceptive method for you.

Can I skip placebo birth control pills for Vacation or to skip a period?

If you are going on vacation, have a special event, or are hoping to miss a period and are on oral birth control pills, you may wonder if it’s okay to skip the placebo pills to miss a period. While this may be okay to do once and a while, it is not recommended to do unless you first check with your gynecologist. Before choosing to not take your placebo pills, request to talk to your provider to ensure it is fully safe to do and to understand any associated risks.


For questions about your birth control methods and how to manage your contraceptive health, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with us at your convenience.  

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