Contraception guide

What should I do if I miss a pill (combined pill)?

If you're on the combined contraceptive pill and you miss a pill, what you need to do depends on: 

  • how many pills you've missed (you've missed a pill when it's more than 24 hours since you should have taken it)
  • when you missed your pill (where you are in the pack)

Missing two or more pills can make your pill less effective at preventing pregnancy.

This advice is about all combined contraceptive pills except Qlaira.

What if I've missed one pill?

If you've missed one pill anywhere in the pack or started a new pack one day late, you're still protected against pregnancy. You should:

  • take the last pill you missed now, even if this means taking two pills in one day
  • carry on taking the rest of the pack as normal
  • take your seven-day pill-free break as normal or, if you're on an Every Day (ED) pill, take your inactive (dummy) pills

You don't need to use extra contraception.

What if I've missed two or more pills?

If you've missed two or more pills anywhere in the pack or started a new pack two or more days late (48 hours or more), your protection against pregnancy may be affected. You should:

  • take the last pill you missed now, even if this means taking two pills in one day
  • leave any earlier missed pills
  • carry on taking the rest of the pack as normal
  • use extra contraception such as condoms for the next seven days

When you start your next pack after missing two or more pills:

  • if there are seven or more pills left in the pack after the last missed pill, finish the pack, take your seven-day pill-free break as normal, or take your inactive pills before you start your next pack
  • if there are fewer than seven pills left in the pack after the missed pill, finish the pack and start a new pack the next day (this means missing out the pill-free break or not taking your inactive pills)

If you've had unprotected sex in the previous seven days and you've missed two or more pills in the first week of a pack, you may also need emergency contraception.

Other types of contraceptive pill

For information about missed pills and the combined pill Qlaira or the progestogen-only pill, see:

What if I'm not sure?

If you're not sure what to do:

  • continue to take your pill
  • use another method of contraception, such as condoms
  • get advice as soon as possible

Where to get advice

You can get advice from:

  • a contraception (family planning) clinic
  • an NHS walk-in centre
  • NHS 111
  • the FPA 
  • a GP
  • a pharmacist

Find sexual health services near you, including contraception clinics

Find pharmacists near you

Find GPs near you

Page last reviewed: 03/01/2014

Next review due: 03/01/2016

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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

luvoo said on 26 June 2014

Hi ive missed a pill on the first day I should start back on the pill, which was Thursday I realised the next day and took my next one on friday and put the Thursday one in the bin and carried on as normal. Then I forgot to take it the following Saturday took Sunday's one carried on as normal again and put Saturday's in the bin but I had unprotected sex on sunday. Does this mean I could be pregnant I'm really worried. Thanks

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Where to get contraception

Find out where you can go for confidential access to the contraception that's right for you.

Media last reviewed: 11/07/2013

Next review due: 11/07/2015