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If you miss your birth control or start your pack late, your pills may not work as well. The chances of getting pregnant depend on when and how many pills you missed. Once it's been more than one day since the time you should've taken your pill, it is considered missed. What you do if you do miss a pill (or more than one), depends on several factors. See the chart below for more information.

Yes, you can get pregnant if you forget to take your birth control. Depending on the timing, you may want to take emergency contraception (EC). EC can be started up to five days after unprotected sex.

When Do I Start My Pills?

You can start your pills on any day of your cycle. Your doctor or nurse can help you figure out which start date will work for you.

If you are starting your pills after taking emergency contraception:

  • If you took ulipristal acetate EC (also known as Ella), wait at least five days after the unprotected sex to start.
  • If you took levonorgestrel (also known as Plan B) EC, start right away.

Will My Pills Work Right Away?

Not always. If you start your pills:

  • Within 5 days of the start of your period, you do not need backup birth control.
  • After the first 5 days of your period, use backup birth control - like condoms - or don't have sex for 7 days.
  • After taking Ella emergency contraception, use backup birth control or don't have sex for 14 days.
  • After taking Plan B emergency contraception, use backup birth control or don't have sex for 7 days.

How Do I Take My Birth Control Pills?

It's up to you, depending on whether or not you want to have a period. If you want to have a period every month:

  • Swallow one pill every day, as close to the same time as possible. Take all the hormone pills first, finish with the reminder pills, then start a new pack. Taking pills this way will give you a period about every 4 weeks.
  • It's okay to skip your reminder pills. There's no hormone in them, so skipping them won't make your pills less effective.

If you want to choose when you have a period:

  • Take the first 3 weeks of hormone pills. After taking the last pill, skip the reminder pills and start a new pack the next day. Continue taking only the hormone pills to avoid having your period.
  • When you're ready to have a period, and after you've been on the hormone pills at least 3 weeks, take the reminder pills for up to 7 days at a time.

If you don't want to get a period, only take the hormone pills in each pack with no break between packs.

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Tags: birth control, birth control pills, how to use birth control pills