Birth control pills are a very common and effective form of contraception or in layman’s terms, we can say ‘prevent pregnancy’. However, certain causes, such as missing pill days, vomiting, and taking some drugs, may decrease the Pill’s effectiveness and may result in pregnancy while taking the Pill. This article looks at how effective the birth control pill is. And how can you get pregnant while taking the Pill? We also give tips about how to prevent the failure of a pill.
How effective is the Pill?
The mixed Pill contains hormones that prevent ovulation, i.e., when the ovaries release the egg for fertilization. Another form of Pill, known as the minipill, causes a female’s cervical mucus.
The birth control pill is successful if you take it properly and do not miss any Pill days. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Pill is 99.7% successful with perfect use. This means that less than 1 in 100 women who take the Pill will get pregnant in one year.
However, with typical use, the efficacy of the Pill is 91%. This means that about 9 out of 100 women would become pregnant after one year of taking the Pill.
Some reasons to get pregnant while taking the Pill
The birth control pill is usually very effective. Some situations can decrease its efficacy and sometimes lead to an accidental pregnancy. These may include:
- You don’t take it at the same time every day
The Pill is heavily dependent on time. That means you can take it every day at the same time in order to make it as productive as possible.
It is 99 percent effective, according to Planned Parenthood, when taken properly. This means that one in every 100 women taking the Pill could become pregnant. But life is busy, and it’s easy to forget, so it’s around 91% successful. And progesterone-only pills are the most time-dependent.
According to Planned Parenthood, if you take this Pill more than three hours late, you can use another contraception form. You can retake your Pill as soon as you remember and then begin to take the rest of the packet as normal.
You don’t have to take it at the exact second. So, it’s a good idea to make a note to do it at the same time every day.
- Missing a day
Manufacturers plan to take the Pill every day to make it the most successful. If a person misses a day, their hormone levels can not be consistent enough to avoid getting pregnant while taking the Pill.
If you find it hard to take a pill every day, you can try alternative types of birth control. The doctor or gynaecologist can advise on a variety of alternative contraceptives.
- You’re taking other medications
Some antibiotics may stop the Pill from working. The two major types that do this are called rifampicin and rifabutin. These are used to cure diseases such as tuberculosis and meningitis. These antibiotics are rare, but there’s nothing to panic about.
However, other types of antibiotics and medications widely used are often thought to disrupt the contraceptive. Medications for epilepsy and HIV can also affect how the Pill works.
It’s not known how many. But if you’re in doubt, make sure you have some form of contraceptive while you’re taking medicine.
And it’s a smart idea to talk to your GP about it when you get a prescription.
Often a person might be sick when they take a pill. When a person vomits, the Pill may come out, or it may not be completely absorbed into their body.
Anyone who has vomiting shortly after taking the medication should take another pill as soon as possible and then regularly take the next Pill.
- You’ve been ill
If you had diarrhoea or had vomiting, the Pill would not work. That’s because you’d either throw it up or poop it out before your body could fully consume all the hormones that prevent your body from getting ready for pregnancy.
According to the NHS, if you’re sick within two hours of taking the contraception pill, it’s not going to work.
You should take another pill right then. And as long as you’re not ill again, you’re still safe from pregnancy. Then you should continue to take the Pill as usual again.
Suppose you are ill for longer than 24 hours or have diarrhoea for more than 24 hours. Then count each day of illness or diarrhoea as the day you missed your Pill.
- Not to start a new pack right away
It is important to start a new pack of pills the day after the previous one is finished. However, often a person does not have a new package. Missing a few days between packets can make the Pill less effective in stopping pregnancy.
According to the CDC, someone who misses two or more pills in a row can use a backup contraception method. Or they should stop sexual intercourse until they take the birth control pill for 7 days.
- Storing it at high temperatures
You should keep medications away from the heat in a cold, dry place. It’s the same with the Pill. Extreme temperatures can minimize the effectiveness of the contraceptive. Doctors advise that you should keep all drugs at or below 25°C to remain effective.
Tips for preventing pill failure
Birth control pills are very successful if you take them properly and do not miss any pill days. The following tips will help avoid to get pregnant while taking the Pill:
- Read the labeling and closely follow the instructions.
- Take the Pill at the same time daily
- Use an app that monitors periods and provides alerts for pills, such as one of the apps in our review article
- Get a new pill pack at least 1 week before the last pill pack is due to run out.
- Always take your missed pills as quickly as possible
- Use a contraceptive backup method, such as a condom, if a person fails to take two or more pills in a row.
Are you worried that you cannot take your pills regularly? Then you should talk to your doctor or gynaecologist about alternative birth control methods. Several alternatives are available that do not include the regular use of a pill. These include an intrauterine system or an IUD.
The Bottom Line
Birth control pills are usually very effective. But, they can often fail to prevent pregnancy if you do not use them properly and regularly.
If you are worried about the usefulness or convenience of contraception, you should talk to a doctor. If a person fails to take more than one Pill, they can use a backup contraceptive method for at least 7 consecutive days after taking the Pill again.