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Missed Morning after Pill? What To Do Next

One of the question that almost every woman starts asking after having unprotected sex and resulting to morning after pills also known as emergency contraception, is how often the pills need to be taken to be effective in preventing pregnancy?

As a rule of thumb, the sooner they are taken after unprotected sex the better. The effectiveness depends on how consistent you're in taking the pills. Risk of getting pregnant is high when you start a new pill pack 3 or more days late, or you missed 3 or more pills near the beginning or end of a pill pack.

It's recommended that you take one pill daily and start each new pack of pills on time. In some cases, with the daily hustle and bustle of life, it's easy to forget taking a pill or even take it late. In such these circumstance, if you're a frequent user of these emergency contraception, then you're familiar with the instructions provided with the pack.

Otherwise, it's important you take any missed pill as soon as possible else you risk getting pregnant or make some side effects such as vomiting worse. Tips on how to make up for the missed pills:

If you missed 1 or 2 pills: Take a hormonal (estrogen) pill as soon. In this case you've little or no risk of pregnancy. This response should also be followed if you started a new pack 1 or 2 days late.

If you missed 3 or more pills in the first or second week: Take a hormonal pill as soon as possible and consider a backup method for the next 7 days. Also, if you've had intercourse for the past 5 days, you should consider emergency contraceptives. This response should also be followed if you started a new pack 3 or more days late.

If you missed 3 or more pills in the third week: Take a hormonal pill as soon as possible. You should also finish all hormonal pills in the pack and throw away the 7 non-hormonal pills in a 28-pill pack. Start a new pack the next day and use a backup method for the next 7 days.

If you've severe diarrhea or vomiting: If you vomit within 2 hours after taking a pill, take another pill from your pack and continue taking pills as usual. But if you are vomiting or diarrhea for more than 2 days, follow instructions for 1 or 2 missed pills above.

Remember, the key idea to make up for the missed pills is to take a hormonal pill the soonest and keep taking pills as usual, daily. You may take 2 pills at the same time or on the same day.

(For pills with 20µg estrogen or less, women missing one pill should follow the same guidance as for missing one or two 30µg pills as instructed above. Women missing 2 or more pills should follow the same guidance as for missing 3 or more 30µg pills.) 

Jackqueline Gete
About the Guest Author:

Jackqueline is a nurse at a local community based clinic in Kiambu county, Kenya.


  1. That's a really great post. Just with what now I have problems and what I am lookig for...


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