Missing a pill can be a worry, especially if you’ve recently had unprotected sex. But, missing a pill doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get pregnant. How protected you are and any extra precautions you might need to take, depends on the type of pill you are taking and the number of pills you have missed.
Knowing what to do when you miss your contraceptive pill will mean you can quickly resolve the situation.
Don’t forget, no contraceptive pill protects against STIs. So make sure you’re getting regularly checked and using condoms to stay protected.
Provided you know what to do if you miss a contraceptive pill then you should be able to control the situation and quickly return to your normal routine.
What type of pill are you taking?
What you should do if you miss a pill depends on whether you are on the combined contraceptive pill or the progestogen-only pill (mini pill). Read our clinicians advice on different types of contraceptive pill.
The main differences between these pills are:
- Mini pill doesn’t contain oestrogen, the combined pill does
- The mini pill is taken every day without a break
- The combined pill is usually taken daily for 21 days followed by a seven day break. You can take the combined pill in other ways, find out more here.
If you are unsure what type of pill you’re on, you can check the packet and search the brand name online.
We’re going to give you some advice on what to do if you miss a pill. But it’s important to check your pill pack for specific instructions, or you can speak to your GP or a pharmacist.
The combined pill is often taken daily for 21 days then stopped for seven days, during which time you will experience a withdrawal bleed. But there are other ways you can take the combined pill, including taking a 4-day break, taking it for 9 weeks with a 4 or 7 day break or having no break at all. Find out more about how to take the combined pill.
Everyday pills (ED) contain 7 inactive (dummy) pills which simply help you know when to start a new pack.
You should always take combined pills in the correct order and at the same time each day.
If you miss one combined pill
If you’ve missed a pill or started a new pack a day late, you’re still covered.
You don’t need to use any extra contraception. Simply:
- Take the pill you missed immediately (even if this means taking two pills in a day)
- Continue taking the rest of the pack as normal
- Take your break or dummy pills as normal, then start a new pack
If you miss 2 or more combined pills
If you’ve missed 2 or more pills or started a new pack 2 or more days late you might not be covered.
- Take yesterday’s missed pill immediately (even if this means taking 2 pills in a day)
- Leave any earlier missed pills. (So if you’ve missed 4 pills don’t take 4 in a day to catch up)
- Continue taking the rest of the pack as normal
- If you have sex use extra contraception (such as condoms) for the next 7 days
When you should start your next pack after missing 2 or more pills depends on the number of pills left in the current pack.If there are 7 or more pills left in the pack: finish the pack, take your seven day break or inactive pills as normal, then start a new pack.
- If there are 7 or more pills left in the pack: finish the pack, take your break or inactive pills as normal, then start a new pack.
- If there are fewer than 7 pills left in the pack: finish the pack, then start a new pack the day after you finish the old one. (Missing out the break or not taking your inactive pills.)
If you miss 2 or more pills in the first week of a pack and you’ve had unprotected sex within the last 7 days, you may need emergency contraception. Speak to your GP or visit our morning after pill clinic for more advice.
You should take progestogen-only pill (POP)is taken every day without a break. The time window for missing mini pills is much narrower than for combined pills.
If you don’t take a pill within 3 hours of your usual time – or within twelve hours for Cerazette and Cerelle, this is a missed pill. Once you’re outside of this 3 or 12 hour window you’ll not be protected against pregnancy.
If you forget to take your POP pill WITHIN your time-window
If you’re within your 3 or 12 hour window you’re still protected against pregnancy.
- Take the late pill immediately
- Continuing taking the pills as normal (even if this means taking two pills in a day)
If you miss the pill OUTSIDE your time-window
If you’re more than 3 or 12 hours past the time when you should have taken your last pill then you’re not covered.
- Take the last pill you missed immediately
- Only take 1 extra pill regardless of how many pills you’ve missed
- Continue taking your pills at the normal time
- If you have sex you must use extra contraception (such as condoms) for the next 2 days after missing the pill.
If you’ve missed your mini pill and have recently had unprotected sex you may need emergency contraception. Speak to your GP or visit our morning after pill clinic for more advice.
Remembering your pill
Taking your pill at the correct time is very important. But we all know it’s how easy it is to forget a pill. Here are some tips to help you remember your pill:
- Make your pill part of your daily routine. Take it after brushing your teeth or just before bed.
- Set an alarm on your phone.
- Leave a note to take the pill, someone you’ll always see it, e.g. the fridge door or kettle.
- Know what to do if you miss and pill.
You can always log into your Patient Record to ask us for advice, or speak to a pharmacist in your local LloydsPharmacy.
Unsure which one is right for you? See our guide on choosing the right contraceptive pill for you.