The combined hormonal contraceptive pill is normally taken every day for 3 weeks and then you have 1 week off. You are protected from pregnancy during your pill-free week as long as you remember to start you pill again when it is due.
Some people take their pills in a different way after discussing it with a doctor or nurse.
Some people have ‘sugar’ or ‘placebo’ pills to take during their pill-free week instead of having a break.
You should take your pill at the same time every day. You are allowed to miss one pill anywhere in your pack or start the new pack one day late and still have contraceptive cover.
However if you miss more than one pill you will need to follow the “missed pill rules” to reduce your chance of falling pregnant:
- Take the last pill you missed now. If you have missed more than one, only take one.
- Take your next pill at the usual time. This may mean taking two pills in one day. This is not harmful.
- Use an additional method of contraception, such as condoms, for the next 7 days, as the pill will not be working in this time
- If you have unprotected sex during this time you might need emergency contraception. It is important that you get advice as quickly as possible.
If there are 7 or more pills left in the pack after the missed pill
- Finish the pack
- Have the usual seven day break or take the placebo tablets.
If there are fewer than 7 pills left in the pack after the missed pill:
- Finish the pack
- Do NOT have your usual seven day break or seven placebo pills. Instead start the next pill packet the next day.
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