What to do if you miss any of the 21 hormonal pills

  • Use back up contraception: taking a pill even 12 hours late may decrease your protection against pregnancy. Abstain or use condoms for 7 days.
  • If you are less than 24 hours late: Take the missed pill right away. Take your next pill at the regular time. If this is during the first week of your pill pack, you will need emergency contraception and condoms for 7 days. *Click here for emergency contraception information.
  •  If you are 24 hours late: Take the missed pill and today's pill at the same time. DON'T take more than 2 pills in one day. If you are more than 24 hours late: Take the last pill you missed now. Take the next pill on time. Throw out the other missed pills. Take the rest of the package as scheduled. Abstain or use condoms for 7 days.
  • Did you completely miss a pill during the 3rd week of pills (days 15-21)? Finish all the hormonal pills in the pack. DO NOT take the non-hormonal (last 7 days) pills. Start a new pill pack immediately. You may not have a period until the end of this new cycle. You are protected from pregnancy after 7 days into the new pack.
  • If you take your pills in a 24/4 pattern, please call Women's Health for instructions.

I forgot to take my pill!

With the busy life of a student, it is not uncommon for a woman to occasionally take a birth control pill later than usual or skip it altogether. However, this may result in an unplanned pregnancy. If you are missing more than one pill a month, contact Women's Health to evaluate if the birth control pills are the best method for you.


Side Effects of Missing Pills

  • Unplanned pregnancy
  • Irregular bleeding and early menstrual periods
  • Nausea
  • Return of menstrual cramps


Tips For Remembering To Take Your Pill On Time:

  • Take it at the same time every day.
  • Try to associate this time with something that is consistent in your day (breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc).
  • Have one pack at home and one in your purse/backpack/travel/toiletry bag. If you realize that you have forgotten to take your  pill and are no longer at home, you will have an emergency pack on hand.
  • Traveling out of the country? Don't forget to adjust the timing of your pill.
  • Set your cell phone alarm to ring at the time you normally take your pill.