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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » EXPERT ADVICE » Ask Scarleteen » One missed pill. Must I really skip the 7-day break?

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Author Topic: One missed pill. Must I really skip the 7-day break?
Jill Valentine
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For the first time ever since starting the pill about a year ago, I have missed one yesterday, by exactly 24 hours. I only realized when I came to take today's pill and saw that yesterday's was still there untouched. I have taken both today's pill and the missed pill now. The brand of pill I'm on is Microgynon and the instruction leaflet that came with it advised that if you have taken a pill late by more than 12 hours and there are fewer than 7 pills left in the pack, you should start the next pack straight away when the current one finishes and skip the break.

This information seems to conflict with what every major health organization here has said, which is that the "7-day break is taken as normal" if only one pill is missed "anywhere in the pack".

In my case, I have just missed yesterday (Sunday)' s pill and, on a side note, I did have unprotected sex yesterday. There were 4 pills left after my missed pill. I would really prefer to have my break as normal. That way, I know when to expect my bleed and I can stick to my same old routine in general. Is it really necessary for me to skip my break in your opinion?

I plan on using condoms for the next 7 days anyway.

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Sam W
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Hi Jill,
I am going to say err on the side of caution and follow the directions in the leaflet. The steps to take in the event of a missed pill can vary depending on the type, which may be why you're encountering contradictory information.

If you'd like some more info, this is a good place to start (the last section is the most relevant):Three questions about taking the birth control pill (and plenty of answers)

[ 11-04-2013, 09:40 PM: Message edited by: Sam W ]

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Jill Valentine
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Thanks. I'll go ahead and start the next pack soon. Would anyone here know what I should expect in terms of my period now that I'll take two packs without a break? I've heard some women say that they try to do this to skip their period but it doesn't really work and they still get spotting when they start the new pack. Is it likely that I'll get spotting or maybe even a full period in the first week of the new pack (when I would normally break) and then another regular period after the second pack?

Also, why is it okay to have a break in the first place? I mean, how is having a break for 7 days different from missing 7 pills in a row?

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Robin Lee
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Hi Jill,

Just to pick up on what you said above about having unprotected sex close to the day you missed your pill. When one is on the pill, the timing of sexual activities related to when one takes each individual pill doesn't make a difference.


we really can't tell you what to expect when you start your next pack right away after finishing this one. It's unlikely that you'll have a full withdrawal bleed (which is what we call a period when someone is on hormonal birth control) while you're taking the active pills.

A person gets a withdrawal bleed when the active pills are finished and they're either taking the seven day break from pills or taking the inactive pills if their pill brand has them. The withdrawal bleed happens because the body is responding to the hormones not being present any longer.

So, if you're taking the hormonal pills, your body won't have a withdrawal bleed. It is true that some people experience spotting when they don't take a break between pill packs.

This article will, I think, answer your question about how taking a break between pill packs works and is still effective.

How do birth control pills really work, even during the placebo period?

--------------------
Robin

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Jill Valentine
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Thank you Robin, helpful article. Not having a period altogether this month would be nice, so I'll hope for the best.
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Robin Lee
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You're welcome.

Remember too that you can always consult the healthcare provider who prescribed your pill (or any other healthcare provider) if you have questions about taking it; that's what they're there for, and that goes for any medication you're taking. [Smile]

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Robin

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Jill Valentine
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I would've done that as well if only I weren't out of the country again. [Frown]

I've been reading my pill's leaflet as well as this which are the national guidelines on missed pills as well as various medical sources, and all of them have talked about using extra contraception for the 7 days after either one or more missed pills, but nobody has said anything about how unprotected sex that occurred before the missed pill is covered, if at all. My concern is still with the unprotected sex I had on Sunday. Although Robin said the timing doesn't matter, we all know that sperm can survive in the reproductive tracts for up to 7 days. Yet no medical authority or pill manufacturer has said that emergency contraception is needed for missing just one pill in the second or third week. The guidelines I linked to even said it's not necessary.

The only advice I have found is this from the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare:

quote:
Concerning sexual intercourse prior to missed pills the Guidance document states that sex occurring before a missed or late pill is protected because the effect on cervical mucus aims to prevent sperm penetration into the upper reproductive tract. Therefore women who have sex prior to miss pills do not require emergency contraception.
Anyway, I'm already too late to consider EC, not to mention I have no access to it where I am right now, but should I be worrying about all the sex I had in the week before I missed my pill, or am I worrying over nothing?

[ 11-06-2013, 04:40 PM: Message edited by: Jill Valentine ]

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