The Common Mishap That Makes Birth Control Pills Less Effective

Updated 02/10/17

For many women, birth control gives an essential sense of control over their bodies and, by extension, their lives. But as with any medication, there's always a small chance that effectiveness can be compromised (especially when it's not used as directed). To separate fact from fiction, Self recently outlined the faux pas that could truly interfere with the pill's success rate, starting with the obvious: missing a pill or starting a pack late.

"For most pills, if you are in the middle or toward the end of your pack you should be fine, but if it is the first day of active pills and you forget to restart, this might be a problem," Nikki B. Zite, MD, program director and professor of obstetrics and gynecology surgery at the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine, told Self. "The first week of pills after the placebos are the most important to stop the egg from developing." In other words, leaving a gap between the end of one pack and the start of another is riskier than forgetting a pill mid-pack.

Consistency issues aside, the pill's effectiveness can also be thwarted by certain medications like those taken for seizures, migraines, or certain diseases like tuberculosis and meningitis, or by antiretroviral medications used to treat HIV. As always, you should consult your doctor about the potential side effects of new prescription medications before starting them.

What birth control faux pas would you add to this list? Share your thoughts with us below.

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