Taking The Pill Does Not Automatically Guarantee You Won’t Get Pregnant


Let’s face it, not every woman wants to get pregnant, for different reasons. For the longest time, birth control pills have been a popular and effective method of contraception. But sometimes, not everything goes according to plan. There are factors that reduce the effectiveness of the pill, which may result in unintended pregnancies. We will look at 5 reasons why the pill might fail.

It is important to note that the pill is considered very effective, if it is correctly taken. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the pill is 99.7% effective with perfect use. This equates to less than 1 out of 100 women who take the pill will become pregnant in one year. However, with typical use, the effectiveness of the pill is 91 percent. This means that around 9 out of 100 women would become pregnant in a year.

Birth control pills contain hormones that prevent ovulation…this is when the ovaries release an egg for fertilization. There is also another type of pill, called a minipill, which causes a person’s cervical mucus to thicken and the uterine lining to thin, which reduces the likelihood of sperm reaching an egg.

And yet, taking the pill does not automatically guarantee you won’t get pregnant. Particularly if not taken correctly.


Missing a day

To be effective, the pill must be taken daily as intended by the manufacturers. Even a day missed can render the pill ineffective. The hormone levels may not remain at consistent enough levels to prevent pregnancy. Unfortunately, it is typical for some women to miss a day. If you find it difficult to take the pill daily, you need to consider other birth control methods. Consulting a doctor or gynecologist is best to explore other alternatives.


Not taking the pills at the same time each day

Believe it or not, taking the pill has a strict routine. Not only must it be taken daily, it must also be taken at the same time each day. This is to make sure the hormone levels remain consistent. For instance, the minipill should always be taken within the same 3-hour window every day. A person missing the window should use a backup birth control method for the next two days, or avoid having sex. It may seem outrageous, but that’s how it works effectively. Some people set alarms so they take the pill at the correct time each day.



It does happen, a person may feel sick when taking the pill. Vomiting either lets the pill come back up, or it may not be fully absorbed into the body. If a person does vomit shortly after taking the pill, they should take another one immediately, and then take the next pill at the usual time the next day.


Meds that interfere with the pill

Know that some medication can render the pill ineffective. Certain antibiotics like rifampicin; and antifungal drugs like griseofulvin. If on these types of medications, a person should use other contraception alternatives, and for 48 hours after finishing the meds. However, long-term medications and supplements may also affect how well birth control pills work. These include anti-viral meds used to treat HIV; epilepsy drugs such as phenytoin, phenobarbital, and carbamazepine; and St. John’s Wort – a herbal remedy.


Not starting a pack right away

It is important to continue with a new pack of pills after finishing the previous one. Yet sometimes, a person may not have their new pack handy. Know that missing a few days between packs may make the pills less effective. The CDC explains that individuals who miss two or more pills in a row should use backup contraceptive methods or avoid intercourse until they have resumed taking the pills for one week.

So there you have it, five reasons why the pill may fail. Now let’s look at some tips to avoid pill failure.

Take the pill at the same time everyday

Read the packaging and follow instructions to the letter

Get a new pill pack at least 1 week before the last pill is due

Always take missed pills as soon as possible

Use an app that tracks periods and provides pill remainders

Use a backup method of contraception like condoms if a person misses taking 2 or more  pills in a row

If it seems too difficult to constantly take the pills consistently, you should consult your doctor. There are several other options available, like an intrauterine device or IUD. Still, if the unexpected happens, here are early signs of pregnancy:

Breast tenderness. Early in pregnancy, breast tenderness can be due to raised levels of the hormones progesterone and estrogen. Some women may also experience feelings of breast fullness, tingling, and heaviness.

Unexplained fatigue. Hormonal changes occurring in a person’s body during pregnancy can make them feel tired.

Bloating. While more often a symptom of premenstrual syndrome, bloating can at times be due to early pregnancy.

Urinating more often. The need to urinate more often during pregnancy is due to the hormonal changes.

Light spotting. Sometimes, a small amount of bleeding or spotting can happen when an egg attaches to the uterine lining. If this occurs outside of the menstrual cycle, it may be an early symptom of pregnancy.

If you think you are pregnant, you may wish to take an at-home pregnancy test. But, while they have become more sensitive to a person’s hormone levels and better at detecting pregnancy, they may not be totally reliable if taken too early, or incorrectly. For the most reliable results, a person should take the test 1-2 weeks after their first missed period.

Sometimes we prepare for things, yet the outcome is not what we expect. That is part of life. If a woman does not want to get pregnant, she should research for all alternatives and options available. Having said that, and all precautions were taken and still she gets pregnant, well, maybe it was really meant to be.