Can You Get Pregnant While Taking The Pill?

pregnancy on the pill
Is It Possible To Get Pregnant While Taking Birth Control Pills?

Highly unlikely - if you take your birth control pill according to instructions on the packet it is NOT really possible to fall pregnant. Most pills are 99 percent effective if taken correctly. Yet, we've all heard of a friend of a friend who became pregnant while taking the Pill. The fact is, she may very well have been taking her pills, but it is also likely that she, made one of the following mistakes:

Missing The First Pill
She may have missed the first pill in the pack. This is the most important pill in the whole packet. If you miss it, your body can start ovulating and the contraceptive will not be effective.

Missing More Than One Pill
She may have missed taking some pills during the month. If you take the Pill every day, it is almost impossible to become pregnant. But one recent study showed that, on average, 50 percent of women missed taking 3 or more pills a month. If you miss one, you are still highly unlikely to become pregnant (just double up and take 2 the following day). But if you miss 3 or more in a month, particularly if you are taking a very low dose pill, you might get pregnant. If you ever have any kind of breakthrough bleeding after missing a pill, you should use a condom for extra protection (don't forget, the female condom is another option).

Throwing Up
She may have been sick for a few days. If vomiting stops you from keeping the Pill down for more than 2 days, you are in danger of becoming pregnant. So what should she have done? According to a study published in Contraceptive Technology, during her sick days she should have inserted the Pill into her vagina, like a tampon. It is just as effective this way as taking it orally. As for antibiotics, while much has been said about them decreasing the effectiveness of the Pill, in reality, only 2 types have been shown to do so: Griseofulvin and Rifampin. However seizure medication, like Dilantin and carbamazepine, can reduce the effectiveness of the Pill.

Other Important Advice

Take The Pill At The Same Time Everyday
Modern birth control pills contain half the amount of hormones than they used to years ago. The pills we take today used to be called the 'Mini-Pill' or 'Low-Dose Pill’ to differentiate them from the higher dose versions. But now, nearly everyone takes the lower dose version. One consequence of this is that the pills need to be taken around the same time everyday to be most effective.

Related Questions:
Will I gain weight on the contraceptive pill?
What are the early signs of pregnancy before a missed period?

Bottom Line
Anywhere between 2 and 8 percent of American women who take the Pill fall pregnant every year. Doctors insist however that it is not the Pill failing women, but rather women failing the Pill. If you follow the guidelines on your birth control carefully, you should not have any fear of falling pregnant.

Questions About Taking Emergency Contraceptives
What is emergency contraception?
What is the difference between the emergency contraception pill and the normal pill?
Can I use ordinary birth control pills for emergency contraception?
How effective is emergency contraception?

• Got another question? See: Womens Health Questions and Birth Control Methods

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