Contraception guide

What if I've lost a contraceptive pill?

If you've lost a pill, replace it with another from the same packet or one from a different packet.

How you do this depends on which kind of pill you take. For example:

  • a 21-day combined pill, such as Microgynon 30 – you take a pill each day for 21 days, followed by seven days without pills when you have your period
  • a 28-day or every day (ED) combined pill, such as Logynon 30 ED – you take a pill every day (the first 21 pills are active pills and the next seven are inactive or "dummy" pills) 
  • a progestogen-only pill (POP), such as Norgeston – you take a pill every day

21-day combined pill

If you've lost one of these:

  • take the last pill in the packet instead
  • take the rest of the pills on the correct days
  • you'll reach the end of your packet sooner, but this won't affect your contraception

Or, to avoid changing the day you start your next packet:

  • take a pill from a spare packet to replace the one that's missing
  • take all the pills as normal on their correct days
  • keep this spare packet in case you lose any more pills

28-day or every day (ED) pill

You need to know which pills are active pills and which pills are dummy. If you've lost an active pill:

  • take the last active pill in the packet instead 
  • continue with the rest of the active pills on their correct days
  • you'll reach the dummy pills sooner, but this won't affect your contraception

Or, to avoid changing the day you start your next packet:

  • take an active pill from a spare packet to replace the missing one
  • take all the remaining pills as normal on their correct days 
  • keep this spare packet in case you lose any more pills 

If you've lost a dummy pill, you don't need to replace it. Just continue taking the remaining dummy pills on their normal days and your contraception won't be affected. You'll start your next packet on the usual day.

Progestogen-only pill

If you've lost a pill:

  • take the last pill in the packet instead 
  • take the rest of the pills on the correct days
  • you'll reach the end of your packet sooner, but this won't affect your contraception

Or, to avoid changing the day you start your next packet:

  • take a pill from a spare packet to replace the missing one
  • take the rest of the pills as normal on their correct days 
  • keep this spare packet in case you lose any more pills 

Getting advice

If you're taking a phasic contraceptive pill (where the amount of hormones in the pills varies throughout the pack), or you're not sure what to do, you can get advice from:

  • contraception clinics (sometimes called family planning clinics) 
  • pharmacists
  • NHS walk-in centres
  • GPs
  • NHS 111
  • FPA (formerly the Family Planning Association)

Find sexual health services near you, including contraception clinics.

Page last reviewed: 15/07/2014

Next review due: 15/07/2016

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