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Birth Control: Getting Started and Best Practices

If I started taking the pill at one time but want to change the time I take it every day, can I do that?

Last updated on September 1, 2020

You can change the timing of your pill, but it's important to do so very carefully so that you don't have any gap in pregnancy protection.

If you're taking a combined hormone pill, you have a few options:

  • After finishing a whole pack, start the new pack for your next cycle at the new time. You'll still be protected against pregnancy.
  • If you want to move your time to earlier in the day, take your pill earlier than usual, so there are less than 24 hours between doses. For example, if you usually take your pill at 5pm, take your pill at 5pm today, then take your next pill anytime before 5pm tomorrow. You'll still be protected against pregnancy.
  • If you want to move the time to later in the day (and you can't wait until you start a new pack), you’ll take two pills in the same day. For example, if you normally take the pill at 8am and want to move it to 5pm, take your pill at 8am today, and then take a second pill at 5pm today. You’ll be protected against pregnancy, but note that this will cause you to end your current pack a day early and shift your monthly schedule by one day. If don’t want to change the day of the week that you start your pill pack on (i.e. if you always start on a Sunday and want to keep it that way) then you should switch your time when you start your next pill pack.

If you take the progestin-only pill, there isn't an option to move the time you take the pill while maintaining seamless pregnancy protection. You can just change the time you take the pill, and then use backup contraception (like condoms) for 48 hours. For example, if you normally take the pill at 8pm, take today’s pill at 8pm, take your next pill tomorrow at 3pm, and use backup contraceptives for 48 hours from 3pm tomorrow. 

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