What Happens If You Take Birth Control An Hour Late

When discussing birth control, the options can feel overwhelming. Oral contraceptive pills, condoms, implants, and IUDs are just a few of the many methods one can use in order to prevent pregnancy (via WebMD). Birth control is not a one-size-fits-all matter. Time, personal family planning goals, and financial considerations can all factor into one's decision when choosing a method of birth control.

Pregnancy prevention has been explored across cultures well throughout history, but for many, oral birth control pills remain one of the most popular methods of contraception used today (via Allure). According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 65.3% of women between 15-49 were utilizing contraception between 2017-2019, with oral birth control pills ranking as the second-most popular method for pregnancy prevention.

According to experts at Planned Parenthood, birth control pills can be split into two categories. The first is combination pills, which contain both estrogen as well as progestin. The second category is progestin-only pills, which are estrogen-free. Birth control is most effective when taken at the same time every day. When taken on time, the pill offers 99% protection against pregnancy.

Side effects of taking birth control late depend on the type of pill

If timing is key, are there risks in taking the pill an hour behind schedule? Although birth control is best taken in 24-hour intervals, we all know that life happens. If you're running late, the side effects will depend on what kind of pill you are taking. Combination pills should not be taken more than 3 hours late, as this may result in spotting and the effectiveness of the pill will be reduced (via University of Michigan). For progestin-only pills, also known as "mini-pills," time is more of the essence. Spotting can occur if you are as much as 15 minutes late, and if you are more than 3 hours behind, additional contraception should be used for the next couple of days. Bottom line: taking a combination birth control pill an hour late is not as much of a concern compared to taking a progestin-only pill an hour late.

To help keep track of your birth control schedule, Planned Parenthood suggests always keeping your pills on you. Additionally, utilizing an alarm on your phone can help remind you when it's time to take your pill. Lastly, keep your pack somewhere in sight to prompt you to take it every day, such as next to your keys or phone.