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Do You Have to Take Birth Control at the Same Time Every Day?

Birth control pills are the most popular contraceptive method worldwide. These pills are recommended to be taken at the same time every day. However, many women are not able to fulfill this due to various reasons. Actually, it is common to delay taking them or even forget them. But, does it really matter when you take the pill? Do you really have to take birth control at the same time every day?

Do You Have to Take Birth Control at the Same Time Every Day?

Well, the answer depends on the type of birth control pills you use. There are two types of birth control pills available – progestin-only pills, often known as the mini-pills, and combined birth control pills, containing both progestin and estrogen.

Progestin-Only Pills

If you use progestin-only pills as a contraception method, it is very important to take them at the same time every day. If you delay it with just three hours, you will increase the risk of getting pregnant. The reason is that progestin-only pills don’t prevent ovulation. These pills only thicken the cervical mucus and alter the uterine lining. So the ovulated egg still has the chance to get fertilized.

Combination Pills

With combination pills, you don’t have to take them at the same time every day. It is OK if you forget to take the pill for a couple of hours and there is no need for you to freak out. You will still be protected if you take the pill later than you should. Just make sure not to skip a day. However, gynecologists recommend taking birth control pills at about the same time every day, so women can form a habit of taking them, minimizing the chance of forgetting to take the pills at all.

What If You Forget to Take the Pill?

Progestin-Only Pills

If you forgot to take progestin-only pills, take them as soon as you remember it. Continue taking the rest of the pack just as scheduled. However, make sure to use some backup contraceptive methods at least for the first 48 hours. Some good ones are female condoms, condoms, diaphragms, sponges and emergency contraceptive pills. Emergency contraceptive pills or the so-called the morning-after pills are a great contraceptive option in cases when you have had sexual intercourse and just remembered that you had forgotten to take the birth control pill.

Combination Pills

When it comes to combination pills, it all depends on when you skipped a pill and how many pills you skipped. Learn what to do from the table.

What Happened

When in the Pill Pack

What to Do

Whether to Use Backup Birth Control or Not Have Sex

I took the pill later than I should have (less than 1 day)

Anytime

Take the pill as soon as you remember it. Continue taking the rest of the pack at about the same time. 

No

I forgot to take the pill less than 2 days

Anytime

Take the pill as soon as you remember it. Continue taking the rest of the pack at about the same time. 

No

I forgot to take more than 2 pills in a row (2 or more days)

1st or 2nd week

Take the last forgotten pill as soon as possible. Throw away the pills from the previous days that you have forgotten to take. Keep taking the pills regularly.

Yes, you should use a backup birth control method for seven days.

I forgot to take more than 2 pills in a row (2 or more days)

3rd week

Take the pill as soon as possible. Throw away the pills from the previous days that you have forgotten to take. Continue taking the rest of the pills from the pack. Once you finish the pack, start a new one, meaning that you will skip the reminder pills.

Yes, you should use a backup birth control method for seven days.

I forgot to take the reminder pills.

4th week

Take the next reminder pill at the usual time. 

No, you don’t need any backup birth control method.

How to Remember to Take the Birth Control Pills

Do you have to take birth control at the same time every day? If you use progestin-only pills, yes. However, it has been estimated that about 80% of women have forgotten to take the birth control pill within one year. That is not a surprising thing. Here are some tips for you to remember to take the birth control pills.

1.   Set the Alarm on Your Smartphone

You can very easily set an alarm on your smartphone, reminding you to take the pill at the right time every day. Set two alarms, about 15-20 minutes apart, just in case you dismiss or don’t pay attention to the first one.

2.   Use Visual Reminders

Keep the pills in a place where you can notice them easily, like on your bedside table, kitchen counter, etc. Have notes in a visible place, like on the bathroom mirror, refrigerator, outside door, etc. It can be just any place that you will definitely notice during the day.

3.   Install an App on Your Smartphone

Do you have to take birth control at the same time every day? If yes, apps on your smartphone can help you remember it. Nowadays, there are many apps available which can remind you when to take the birth control pill. These apps are easily downloaded.

4.   Get Help from Your Friend or Partner

Telling your friend or partner about the time when you need to take the pill daily can be helpful. They can remind you to take the pill if you have forgotten about it. 

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