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I forgot my pill, patch or ring

Let’s face it, we all forget things sometimes. Here’s what to do if you’re forgotten to take your pill or change your patch or ring. 

The combined pill, progestogen-only pill, patch and ring are all effective at preventing pregnancy but only if you remember to use/take them when you’re supposed to.

If you have forgotten to take your pill or change you patch/ring, what you do next will depend on:

  • Your contraception method
  • How many days you’ve forgotten
  • Whether you’ve had unprotected sex during this time

Step 1: Don’t Panic

If it’s only one day you’ll likely be protected from pregnancy provided you’ve used the method correctly for the past seven days.

If you’re on the combined pill or the progestogen-only pill, you can use the Lowdown’s missed pill calculator to work out whether you are protected from pregnancy, if you need emergency contraception and when to take your next pill.

Don’t insert a new ring or patch without first checking what the guidance says as this may not be the best approach.

Step 2: Check the instructions

This will depend on which method and brand of contraception you use and how many days you’ve missed.

  • Read the information leaflet that comes in the packet with your contraception: this should have advice about what to do if you forget to take/replace the method.
  • Look at the guidance for your method on the Brook website using the links below:

Always talk to a medical professional (GP, pharmacist, sexual health nurse) if you’re unsure what to do.

Step 3: Do you need emergency contraception?

The more days you have forgotten your pill, patch or ring, the more likely you will need emergency contraception if you’ve had sex around this time.

If you’re unsure, you can use our Risk of Pregnancy calculator to work out the level of risk, follow the guidance about your method or talk to medical professional.

Emergency contraception can prevent pregnancy up to five days after unprotected sex – the sooner you use emergency contraception, the more effective it is so it’s important to talk to a medical professional, visit a sexual health clinic or pharmacy as soon as possible.

I think I might be pregnant

If you think that you might be pregnant, you will need to wait at least three weeks after the time you had sex or a week after your missed period to take a pregnancy test. Taking a test earlier than this may not give you an accurate result.

Using emergency contraception or restarting on your pill/patch/ring will not stop a pregnancy if it has already happened.

If you are worried, you should contact your local sexual health service or doctor as soon as possible. They will be able to help you with taking a pregnancy test and can also support you with making decisions about continuing a pregnancy.

Step 4: Make sure this method is right for you

Once you’ve got things back on track, it’s worth having a think about your method and if it’s the right one for you at the moment. It’s really important that you choose a method that you will be able to follow.

It’s normal to make mistakes and forget occasionally, but there are things you can do to help you. Visit our page on remembering to take your pill to find out more.

If you’re forgetting pills, patches or rings more than on the odd occasion, you won’t be effectively protected from pregnancy and it might be that a different method would work better for you.

what other methods could i try?

Some LARC (long-acting reversible contraception) methods can last up to 10 years.

These are the most effective methods at preventing pregnancy as they don’t rely on your ability to remember to take/use contraception other than simply going for an appointment every few months or years.

You could also look into using barrier methods like condoms or internal condoms. These can be used alongside the pill, patch or ring, so if you just need a bit of time to get back into the habit of taking/changing them regularly then condoms will provide you with extra protection in the meantime.

Unsure which contraception method is best for you?
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