If you take oral birth control, then chances are you’ve missed a day at some point, even though you know you absolutely need to take them like clockwork. That’s because the task can become so repetitive that you might assume you’ve gotten your dose, when in reality, you’re thinking of the day before. Luckily, your body will only experience minor changes if you miss just one day of the contraceptive (via The Thirty).
Essentially, the birth control pill manipulates two hormones. “The oral contraceptive pill is usually a combination of two hormones that are designed to prevent the pregnancy hormone by inhibiting the release of hormones such as the luteinizing (LH) and the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) from the pituitary gland to the brain. Together, these two hormones prepare a woman for pregnancy by developing the egg and prepping the uterus to be a suitable environment for the pregnancy,” explains gynecologist Omnia M. Samra-Latif Estafan to The Thirty.
So, if you miss a day of the pill, these hormones can be released, which can cause a few small reactions within your body. Important note: One missed day does not necessarily mean an unplanned pregnancy. “Generally, one missed pill will not decrease the effectiveness of the pill pack, and no backup contraception is needed,” said Harpreet Brar, a board-certified ob-gyn at Detroit Medical Center’s Hutzel Women’s Hospital.
The side effects of missing one birth control pill
When you miss one day of taking the pill, some minor changes that can happen within the body include breakthrough bleeding or spotting. You also may experience nausea, weight gain, and/or bloating. Finally, headaches and mood swings can also happen, according to Samra-Latif Estafa. If you miss two or more days of taking the pill, you could see yourself start a whole new menstrual cycle. The mucus around your cervix might withdraw or shrink, too, and you could potentially get pregnant (via Bustle).
Keep in mind that missing one day isn’t the end of the world. You simply need to take it as soon as you remember — and it’s safe to take two pills in one day if necessary, noted Taraneh Shirazian, assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center (via Refinery29). To avoid the easy mistake, set an alarm, write it on your calendar, or stick to a firm daily schedule that will eliminate the stress or anxiety around missing any of your birth control pills. If you tend to miss several pills often, consider switching to a different form of birth control.
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