39% of millennial women miss their contraceptive pill at least once a month, and 39% report they do not take the pill at the same time each day, potentially missing their ‘safe window’.
At The Lowdown we think it's crazy that the best way we currently have to work out what to do if we miss a pill is to read a complicated diagram in a patient information leaflet.
So, we came up with a solution: an easy to use, super-simple, online missed pill calculator!
Our missed pill calculator has been developed by The Lowdown’s medical team; Dr Fran Yarlett, Dr Melanie Davis-Hall and Dr Becky Mawson, using official guidance from the Faculty of Reproductive and Sexual Health. It has been endorsed by the Primary Care Women’s Health Forum.
The outcome will vary depending on which type of pill you’re taking, how many pills you miss and where you are in your packet.
All birth control pills have ‘safe windows’ for pill taking, which means that if you take your pill within a certain time frame, you are still protected against pregnancy.
Different types of pills have different safe windows, but everyone is advised to take their pill around the same time each day to maximise your level of protection through routine. Always check what kind of pill you are on.
If you change your usual pill taking time, but still take your pill within the safe window, this is classed as a ‘late pill’ and you’re still protected against pregnancy.
However, a ‘missed pill’ means that you have not taken your pill at your usual time and then exceeded the safe window for your particular pill. This means that you may not be protected against pregnancy.
Missing a pill can make it less effective, as well as vomiting, some medications, poor absorption from digestive issues (not including irritable bowel syndrome) and not starting a new pack on time.
These can all put you at risk of pregnancy, and may mean you need to use emergency contraception or additional birth control such as condoms.
If you think you may need to use it, check out our guide to emergency contraception and the morning after pill.
Always take your missed pill as soon as possible, sometimes this will mean you take two in one day.
The advice on missed pills is different depending on whether you are using the progestogen-only pill or the combined pill, and also which brand of pill you are using.
Our calculator can be used for any type of progestogen-only or mini pill, and most of the common combined pill brands.
The advice around missed pills for some brands such as Daylette, Eloine or Zoely (which contain placebo sugar pills) or Qlaira and Logynon which are multiphasic (with varying levels of hormones in individual pills) is more complex. If you are using these pills please consult the pill packet instructions or your healthcare provider for advice.