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Your contraception guide

What if I've lost a contraceptive pill?

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If you've lost a contraceptive pill, you can replace it with another pill from the same packet, or one from a different packet.

How you do this depends on which type of contraceptive pill you take.

The types of pill include:

  • the 21-day combined pill, such as Microgynon 30. You take a pill each day for 21 days, followed by 7 days without pills, which is when you have your period
  • the 28-day or every-day (ED) combined pill, such as Logynon ED. You take a pill every day. For 21 days you take an "active" pill each day. For the next 7 days you take an "inactive" (dummy or placebo) pill each day, which is when you have your period
  • the progestogen-only pill (POP), such as Norgeston. You take a pill every day

21-day combined pill

If you've lost one of these:

  • take the last pill in the packet instead
  • take the rest of the pills on their correct days
  • you'll reach the end of your packet sooner, but this will not affect your contraception

Or, to avoid changing the day you start your next packet:

  • take a pill from another packet to replace the pill that's missing
  • take the remaining pills as normal on their correct days
  • keep the packet you took the pill from as a spare, in case you lose any more pills

28-day or every-day (ED) pill

You need to know which pills are active and which pills are inactive (dummy or placebo). 

If you've lost an active pill:

  • take the last active pill in the packet instead
  • take the remaining active pills as normal on their correct days
  • you'll reach the inactive pills sooner, but this will not affect your contraception

Or, to avoid changing the day you start your next packet:

  • take an active pill from another packet to replace the pill that's missing
  • take all the remaining pills as normal on their correct days
  • keep the packet you took the pill from as a spare, in case you lose any more pills

If you've lost an inactive pill:

  • you do not need to replace it, just continue taking the remaining inactive pills on their correct days; your contraception will not be affected
  • you'll start your next packet on the usual day

Progestogen-only pill (POP)

If you've lost a pill:

  • take the last pill in the packet instead
  • take the remaining pills on their correct days
  • you'll reach the end of your packet sooner, but this will not affect your contraception

Or, to avoid changing the day you start your next packet:

  • take a pill from another packet to replace the pill that's missing
  • take the remaining pills as normal on their correct days
  • keep the packet you took the pill from as a spare, in case you lose any more pills

Getting advice

If you're taking a phasic contraceptive pill, where the amount of hormones in the pills varies throughout the packet, or you're not sure what to do, you can get advice from:

  • contraception clinics or sexual health clinics
  • pharmacists
  • NHS walk-in centres
  • a GP
  • NHS 111

Find sexual health services near you

Page last reviewed: 30/01/2018
Next review due: 30/01/2021