Combined birth control pills, with two hormones, stop you producing an egg. At the same time, they make the mucus around your cervix thicker so the sperm can’t get through. Mini-pills, with only one hormone, work just because of this thickening of the mucus. But they also stop you producing an egg some of the time too, depending on the dose.
If you miss one or more pills (Combined or Mini), you increase your chances of releasing an egg that could be fertilized and lead to a pregnancy. You could become pregnant if you miss taking your progestin-only pill (mini-pill) by more than 3 hours.
You can get pregnant
- If you missed the pill when you ovulating
- If you missed more than one pills in a row
- you had unprotected sex before or after the time of missed your pill(s).
You need to take the pill at the same time every day. If you miss a pill, you should take the next one as soon as you can. You carry on taking the pill as normal. At the same time you need to use a back-up birth control method, because otherwise you could get pregnant. Check the instructions for your brand of pill.
- Combined birth control pill: if you take it more than 12 hours late, you need a back-up for seven days.
- Mini-pill: if you take it more than three hours late, you need a back-up for two days.
What can stop the pill from working properly?
- If you’re very overweight, the pill might not work as well.
- Vomiting or diarrhoea can stop the pill from working properly - check the instructions for your brand of pill.
If you vomit within two or three hours of taking the pill your body might not have absorbed it properly. You should take another pill. But if you keep vomiting, you should use a back-up birth control method for seven days after you get better.
Do the same if you've had severe diarrhoea for more than 24 hours.
- Certain medicines might stop the pill from working as well. They include medication for yeast infections, HIV and epilepsy, and the herbal remedy St John’s wort.
You need to check with a health care professional if you’re taking medicines along with the pill.
To protect the identity, the person in the picture is a model.