Your contraception guideWhat 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:

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

  • how many pills you have missed (you have 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)
  • the type of combined pill you're taking 

This advice is about combined contraceptive pills, except Daylette, Eloine, Qlaira and Zoely.

If you're using one of these types of combined pill, get advice or read the patient information leaflets that can be found on the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website:

See What should I do if I miss a pill (progestogen-only pill)? for information about missed pills and the progestogen-only pill.

What if I have missed 1 pill?

If you have missed 1 pill anywhere in the pack or started a new pack 1 day late, you're still protected against pregnancy.

You should:

  • take the last pill you missed now, even if this means taking 2 pills in 1 day
  • carry on taking the rest of the pack as normal
  • take your 7-day pill-free break as normal, or if you're on an everyday (ED) pill, take your dummy (inactive) pills

You do not need to use extra contraception.

What if I have missed 2 or more pills?

If you have missed 2 or more pills anywhere in the pack or started a new pack 2 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 2 pills in 1 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 7 days

When you come to the end of your pill pack, after missing 2 or more pills:

  • if there are 7 or more pills left in the pack after the last missed pill – finish the pack, take your 7-day pill-free break as normal, or take your inactive pills before you start your next pack
  • if there are less than 7 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

You may also need emergency contraception if you have missed 2 or more pills in the first week of a pack and had unprotected sex in the previous 7 days.

What if I'm not sure what to do?

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

Why this advice may be different from the advice in your contraceptive leaflet

You may find the advice on this page differs from advice provided in the contraceptive manufacturer's patient information leaflets.

The information on this page is based on recommendations issued by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA).

The recommendations are evidence-based, which means they're supported by a large amount of scientific research.

These recommendations are used in the FPA's combined pill patient information leaflet.

The manufacturer's advice may be more cautious and say there's a risk of pregnancy if you have missed 1 pill or a pill is taken more than 12 hours after the usual time.

Where to get further 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)

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Page last reviewed: 29/01/2018
Next review due: 29/01/2021