What Are The Chances Of Getting Pregnant If You Forgot Your Birth Control Pill Once?

Hi Heather,

I’m on the birth control pill and am in a relationship. Last week, I forgot to take the pill one day and didn’t take until the next morning when I remembered. A day later, I had sex with my boyfriend. What are the chances of getting pregnant if you forget to take the pill once? Should I be worried? Please help! I feel so stupid.

birth control pill

I’m happy to hear that you’re taking preventative measures by using the birth control pill. That’s great! Every girl who takes or has taken the Pill has found herself in your situation. We’re all human, and we all forget to take it once in a while, even if we have three alarms set and someone reminds us. It happens, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up for it. However, it’s definitely something to be really mindful of, because unfortunately, this is a mistake that could have scary consequences.

I want to give you the best answer possible, so I’m handing this one over to my friend Dr. Sherry Ross from HelloFlo (a monthly period care package you need to check out). She’s a doctor who can give the answers you need!

Dr. Sherry Ross says, “Let’s be clear – birth control is only as effective as you are compliant. Even though the birth control is 96 percent effective overall in preventing pregnancy, its effectiveness may be dependent on how many pills you have forgotten to take throughout the month.” Basically, birth control can work great – if you take it exactly as you’re supposed to. “Accidents” happen when you screw up the schedule.

Dr. Ross continues: “Ideally you want to take the pill every day as if it is part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth! Unfortunately, remembering to take one every day can be challenging for some. Here’s some info to keep in mind:

• If you a miss one pill, take it as soon as you remember or take two pills (double-up) the next day. The chance of you getting pregnant would be really unlikely if you get back on track quickly.

• If you miss two pills, take it as soon as you remember or “double up” the next day and the following day. The chance of you getting pregnant is still very unlikely.

• If you miss three or more pills, it gets more complicated and you should contact your healthcare provider for next steps. You will need a backup contraception until the end of the pill pack, such as a condom, if you have missed more than three pills in a row.”

At this point, you’re probably like, “But what about getting pregnant?!” Allow Dr. Ross to outline what till happen if you do miss a pill (or two): “The most common side effects of skipping pills are irregular bleeding, spotting, cramping, and pregnancy. Plus, your “official” period will be out of sync, and irregular bleeding can last a couple of months while your body hormonally resets.”

So, essentially, yes, pregnancy could be possible if you forgot to take a pill and then had unprotected sex. However, in your case, you might be okay. If you only forgot one pill and took it as soon as you remembered, you’re already cutting down on your chances. If you guys used a condom or alternate form of birth control, you’re probably safe. If you didn’t, you might want to get a pregnancy test just to be sure.

Dr. Ross adds: “If you forget to take pills often, you might want to change to another form of birth control that you don’t have to take every day. Examples would be long-acting contraception such as the IUD, Depo-Provera and Norplant implants. Another alternative is the Nuvaring, which is a flexible, plastic ring that is placed in the back of the vagina working like the birth control ‘pill,’ with the exception that you leave it in place for 21 days and remove it for 7. These are great options for those of us who are forgetful!”

take care,

What’s on your mind? Heather can help! Send her your question at heather@gurl.com You can also reach our buddies at HelloFlo with questions about your body or health. Just ask Dr. Flo at HelloFlo!


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