The Real Reason You Have To Take Birth Control At The Same Time Every Day

If you've just started taking birth control pills, you may be wondering if you really need to take them at the same time every day. The answer to this question, however, depends on the type of pill (via Self). There are two kinds of birth control pills: combination and progesterone-only. Combination pills contain both estrogen and progesterone and work by preventing ovulation from occurring every month. If you're taking combination birth control pills, you do not need to take them at the same time each day in order for them to work.

While setting your alarm at the same time each day may make it easier for you to remember to take it, you can take combination birth control at any time, as long as you take your one pill per day. Progesterone-only birth control pills, on the other hand, need to be taken at the same time or at least within the same three-hour window every day. Typically used by people who are breastfeeding, progesterone-only pills work by thickening the cervical mucus to prevent sperm from entering and reaching an egg. If the birth control pill isn't taken at roughly the same time every day, the cervical mucus will remain thin, increasing the risk of pregnancy.

Don't get too far off schedule with combination birth control pills

While combination birth control pills offer more leeway than progesterone-only pills, getting too far off schedule can decrease the effectiveness of the pill and possibly result in some unexpected side effects (via Vice). If you're using combination birth control to prevent pregnancy, you'll want to make sure you take one pill every 24 hours.

If you miss a pill, it is important to take it as soon as you remember and continue with your normal schedule. It's okay to take two pills at the same time. However, you shouldn't take more than two pills at once. If you end up missing two days in a row, take the first pill you missed as soon as you remember, and the second one the following day. This will help you get back on schedule.

Failing to take your birth control pills consistently may result in spotting and bleeding. This is because the uterine lining breaks down and sheds after being off the pill for a few days. Fortunately, you can prevent this from happening by taking your combination birth control pills at the same time or within the same timeframe every day.