What to do when missed 3 birth control pills?
Missing a birth control pill can be a cause of concern for many women. Missing three pills, however, can be extremely stressful. Not only can it increase the risk of accidental pregnancy, but it can also disrupt your menstrual cycle and cause other side effects. If you have missed three or more birth control pills, there are several steps you can take to keep yourself safe and reduce your risk of unintended pregnancy.
Step 1: Take Your Missed Pills Right Away
If you have missed three birth control pills in a row, start by taking the missed pills as soon as possible. This will help to keep your hormone levels stable and minimize the risk of pregnancy. If you missed three or more pills from the last week of the previous pack, it is important to check the instructions with your birth control brand, some recommend taking the ones missed first and then continue with the ones from the current week.
The Importance of Timing When Taking Missed Pills
The timing of when you take your missed pills can be critical in preventing pregnancy. For example, if you are taking a combination pill (estrogen and progesterone), the pills should be taken at the same time every day to ensure their effectiveness. If you take your missed pills 12 hours or more after your usual time, your effectiveness can decrease.
Step 2: Use Backup Birth Control
When you miss three or more birth control pills, it is important to use a backup form of birth control, such as condoms, for at least the next seven days. This will help to ensure that you are protected against unintended pregnancy during this time.
Types of Backup Birth Control
- Condoms- the most common type of backup birth control
- Cervical cap or diaphragm
- Combination of emergency contraception pills with progestin
Step 3: Check in With Your Healthcare Provider
If you missed three or more birth control pills, it is important to check in with your healthcare provider. Your provider can help you determine your risk of pregnancy and suggest appropriate steps to take. If you missed three or more pills during the first week of a new pack, in particular, it is recommended to check in with your provider to ensure that you are still protected against pregnancy.
What can Happen If You Miss Birth Control Pills?
The consequences of missing birth control pills can vary, but they can include:
- Increased risk of unintended pregnancy
- Irregular bleeding or spotting
- Changes in menstrual cycle length or flow
- Weight gain or acne
- Increased risk of stroke or heart attack (for some types of birth control pills)
Step 4: Consider Switching to a Different Birth Control Method
If you find it difficult to remember to take your birth control pill every day or if you frequently miss pills, it may be worth considering switching to a different form of birth control. Other options include:
- Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) or implants
- Injectable contraceptives, such as Depo-Provera
- Transdermal patches or contraceptive rings, which require weekly or monthly application
The Benefits of Switching to a Different Birth Control Method
These methods typically have a lower risk of pregnancy associated with missed doses, due to their long-acting nature or ease of use. They can also be more convenient, as they require less frequent administration or application in comparison to daily birth control pills.
Step 5: Remember to Take Your Birth Control Consistently
One of the most effective ways to prevent unintended pregnancy is to take your birth control pill consistently every day. Setting a reminder on your phone or using a pill pack tracker can help you stay organized and remember to take your pill on time. Consistency can also help to reduce side effects and maintain a regular menstrual cycle.
Advice on Taking Your Birth Control Pill Consistently
- Keep your pill pack in a visible location as a reminder
- Set alarms or reminders on your phone
- Take your pill at the same time every day, ideally at a time when it is most convenient
- Prepare backup birth control for situations where you may forget or miss a pill
Missing three or more birth control pills can be stressful and can increase your risk of unintended pregnancy. However, by following these steps, you can reduce your risk and keep yourself protected. Always remember to take your birth control pill as directed, use backup birth control when necessary, and check in with your healthcare provider if you have missed multiple pills or have concerns about your birth control method.
- Q: What should I do if I accidentally miss a birth control pill?
- A: If you miss one birth control pill, take it as soon as you remember and then take the next pill as usual. If you have unprotected sex during the time you missed the pill, use an additional method of birth control for the next seven days.
- Q: What happens if I miss multiple birth control pills?
- A: Missing multiple birth control pills can increase your risk of unintended pregnancy and can cause irregular bleeding or spotting. Follow the steps mentioned in this article, and consider switching to a different form of birth control if you frequently miss doses.
- Q: Can I still get pregnant if I miss a few birth control pills?
- A: Yes, there is a higher risk of unintended pregnancy when you miss multiple birth control pills. Always use backup birth control and take missed pills as soon as possible. Contact your healthcare provider if you have concerns.
- Q: How long should I wait to have unprotected sex after I miss multiple birth control pills?
- A: Use backup birth control for at least the next seven days, even if you catch up by taking missed pills. It is also important to check with your provider to make sure you are still protected against pregnancy.
Medical News Today. (2021). Missed Birth Control Pills: What to Do. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/missed-birth-control-pills
Planned Parenthood. (2021). Birth Control Pill. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/birth-control-pill