What to Do If You Lose a Birth Control Pill

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Birth-control pills, also known as oral contraceptives, are the most common form of birth control for women aged 15 to 29. Occasionally, a birth-control pill may be missed or lost, but there is a fairly easy way to remedy this problem.

About Birth Control Pills

Birth-control pills come in many varieties and are usually a combination of a synthetic estrogen and a synthetic progesterone. They are generally taken for 21 days of each month with seven days of placebo therapy to allow for a menstrual period. A few types of birth-control pills have active medication in 24 pills with only four placebo “reminder” pills. They are generally considered to be 99 percent effective when taken perfectly, but the actual effectiveness rate may be closer to 90 to 95 percent because of user failure such as forgetting to take pills daily as prescribed. If a birth control pill is lost, there is no need to panic. The remedy will be simple, depending upon the type of birth-control pill and how many pills have been taken for the month.

Call the Doctor

Not following the birth-control pill instructions exactly is the most common reason why birth control pills fail. As there are so many different types of birth control available and each one may have different instructions, it will be important to follow the instructions specific to the brand being taken. Most physicians use only a few different types of birth-control pills, and the physician or nursing staff members will be able to answer the question quite easily. Most of the time, you will be advised to take the next pill in the package as soon as the loss is discovered. If a pill has been missed completely, the physician may advise for two pills to be taken or may advise to start a new pack. If the missing pill is from the placebo, "reminder" pill section, you will be advised to skip the dose.

Call the Pharmacy

If the physician’s office is unavailable, the pharmacist who filled your prescription will be able to offer some solution. This will generally be the same sort of advice that the physician’s office will offer--such as, if one pill is lost, take the next pill in the package. If the pill has been lost and the dose was completely missed, take two pills immediately and begin taking one pill as normal the next day. The pharmacist may also simply advise that a new package should be obtained and will be able to refill the prescription. If you are advised to obtain a new package, start by taking the pill from the same day as the lost pill. For example, if the lost pill is from day 14, take the day 14 pill from the new package and continue the rest of the package. Discard the remainder of the old package.

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