I missed one of my combined pills by more than 12 hours. When I realised, I took my missed pill and the next day's pill as well. But now I'm really confused about whether I'm still covered. Is it OK to take the rest of my pills as normal and have the seven-day period for my menstruation?
There are different rules about missed pills and it can be very confusing knowing which rule applies to you. It all depends on which type of pill you take, how late you took it, and - for the combined pill - where you are in the packet.
If you have missed a pill and had sex within the last few days, it's possible that you're still protected by your pill, but you may also need to use emergency contraception. There are two forms of emergency contraception - the emergency contraceptive pill and the emergency intrauterine device (IUD). Your doctor (GP) or a nurse at the Family Planning Association helpline (0845 310 1334) should be able to help you decide if you need to use one of these methods, and if so, which is best for you. They'll also be able to tell you about different methods of contraception. This could be worthwhile as there may be a method that you'd find more convenient and easy to use.
Emergency contraceptive pills can be taken up to 72 hours (three days) after sex. However, they are more effective the sooner after sex they are taken. If you're over 16 you can buy them from the chemist for around £25, otherwise they're available free from your GP, family planning clinics, Brook Centres (for under 25s), NHS walk-in centres and most sexual health or Genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinics.
An IUD can be fitted as an emergency contraceptive up to five days after sex. It has to be fitted by a specially trained doctor or nurse so you should check with a service to see if they offer this before going.
Until you've got the medical advice you need to work out if you're covered, make sure you keep taking your pill and use condoms for extra protection.
Question answered by YouthNet in association with Brook