It’s entirely normal to forget to take a pill every once in a while, but when forgot to take birth control medication it’s fully understandable if a woman panics a little bit and especially so if she’s been regularly sexually active with her partner. Her concern of course will be whether she might soon be pregnant because of her forgetfulness, and the next thought will likely be what to do if you skip a birth control pill. The good news is that missing one day – even two – won’t make the medication ineffective in its ability to prevent pregnancy, but you will need to make up for missing that day.

We’ll explain what should you do if you forget to take a birth control pill here. So please continue reading if this information that’s helpful to you right now, or will be good to know for future reference.

Depends on Pill Type  

The first thing to understand here is that different brands of birth control pills have varying hormonal formulations, and so the potential outcomes of missing a dose will dependent on the types of birth control medication you’re taking. It is true that for some of them missing even one day could mean you’re at risk of becoming pregnant. One of the key factors here is that some birth control pills are multiphasic. This means that all of the pills in one single pack of the medication have variances in the hormone levels between them.

General Guidelines When Forgetting to Take Birth Control Pills

We’ll start by relating good news for those of you looking for reassurances with what to do if you skip a birth control pill; you only have a highly increased risk of pregnancy if you go without taking the pill for a week or longer. So long story short, missing one day taking birth control shouldn’t be a big deal.

The best course of action is actually dependent on which exact pill it is in the pack that you miss. Here’s exactly what to do if you skip a birth control pill:

  • If you miss the first 1 or 2 pills at the beginning of the pack, take a pill as soon as you remember and take the next pill at the same time you regularly would. Note that in this instance you will need to start using an alternate method of birth control for the next 7 days to eliminate any chance of you becoming pregnant if you continue to be sexually active.
  • If you miss the first 1 or 2 pills from day 3 through day 23 your pack, the recommendation is the same as above; you should take a pill right away and then take the next one at the regular time.  The difference is that you will not need to take any temporary birth control if the pill(s) you missed were ones for days between day 3 and day 23.

Guidelines for When You Forget More Than 2 Days in a Row

We’ve now covered what to do if you skip a birth control pill when it’s only 1 or 2 pills that you’ve missed. We’ll now do the same for instances where you’ve neglected to take your pill for 3 or more days. Here’s exactly what to do in this scenario:

  • If you have forgotten or were unable to take three or more pills from the first 2 weeks of the pack, you should take a pill as soon as you can and then take the next pill at the usual time. You will need to use a separate means of birth control for the next 7 days if you will continue to be sexually active.
  • If you miss three or more pills in the third week of the pack, the protocol is very different. You must DISCARD THE REMAINDER OF THE PILL PACK and start a new pack as well as use a backup birth control method for the next 7 days.

The last piece of advice related to what to do if you skip a birth control pill is that the packaging of most birth control medications will include some type of printed information that explains what are the best practices when missing a birth control pill based on the way their product is formulated.

If yours has one and any of the information there is contrary to that shared here, you should of course always follow the drug manufacturer’s recommendations.