If you were on the birth control pill, then the news of an unexpected pregnancy can not only be shocking, but it can seem frustrating as well. You may be wondering why the pill didn’t work, especially if you were taking it as directed. How could this happen? While the birth control pill is a popular form of contraception, certain factors can reduce its ability to prevent unexpected pregnancies. Seeking consultation from a healthcare provider or a pregnancy consultant may be a good next step if you’re currently facing an unexpected pregnancy, as this can help you learn more about your available options.
Facing an unexpected pregnancy after having been on the pill can feel just as surprising as it is overwhelming. Avenue Women’s Center offers women facing unexpected pregnancies compassionate support throughout the Chicagoland area. Our pregnancy consultants can meet with you to discuss your concerns, giving you room to express your emotions freely in a nonjudgmental environment. When you feel ready, our expert staff will gently walk you through your unexpected pregnancy options, supplying you with reliable information about parenting, adoption, and abortion. We are here to answer any questions you may have. Call, chat, email, or text to start talking about your options today!
How Does the Birth Control Pill Work?
Typically, the birth control pill will contain hormones that prevent ovulation, a process where the ovaries release an egg for fertilization. You may have also heard of the minipill, and this form of birth control generally thickens your cervical mucus and thins your uterine lining to reduce the chances of sperm and egg meeting. While it has been reported that the birth control pill is 99.7% effective with perfect use, the percentage for typical use is often lower.
This is usually because the birth control pill may need to be taken a certain way, and it can be hard to follow the pill’s often stringent instructions. Contrasted with the high success rate for perfect use, the effectiveness rate for typical use falls to 91%. Despite the seemingly reliable nature of the birth control pill, it still has a chance of failure, and even women who take it regularly may find themselves pregnant.
Why Does the Birth Control Pill Sometimes Fail?
Skipping a Day: It’s usually a requirement that you take the pill every day for maximum effectiveness. If you miss a day, then your hormone levels may not be enough to prevent an unexpected pregnancy. Understandably, it can be hard to remember to take the pill, as your day-to-day life may have you preoccupied with other things, and it may slip your mind. If this is the case, then you may want to speak to your healthcare provider about different birth control options for the future, and see if your doctor can make any recommendations.
Vomiting: It may have happened where you became sick at some point while taking the pill. Obviously, this is not your fault, as vomiting is a natural body function that can force the pill to come back up. This means your body may not have been able to fully absorb it, and it’s usually recommended that you take another pill or proceed to take the next one as usual before intercourse.
Taking Pills at Different Times: In addition to remembering to take the pill every day, it’s usually recommended you take the pill around the same time each day. This may help your hormone levels remain consistent when preventing an unexpected pregnancy, but it can be easy to miss your designated time frame. For some women, keeping an alarm to remind them when to take the pill may help them stay on schedule, but it takes a bit of careful planning to schedule this pill regiment into your routine.
Delay in Starting a New Pack: The birth control pill may lose its effectiveness if you do not start a new pack of pills shortly after finishing the first one. Missing two or more pills in a row may increase your chances of an unexpected pregnancy, and if you have not taken the birth control pill for 7 consecutive days, intercourse may not be recommended.
Medication: Certain medications may reduce the effectiveness of the pill. Some antibiotics, anti-fungal drugs, and anti-seizure medication may interfere with the birth control pill. Other medications and supplements that may affect the birth control pill include St. John’s Wort and anti-viral drugs used to treat HIV. Any of these drugs listed above may affect the birth control pill’s ability to prevent pregnancy.
Signs of Pregnancy Despite Taking the Pill
If you suspect this particular contraceptive method may have failed, you may want to consider taking a pregnancy test. It’s possible you may have noticed your period is late, and other symptoms may have appeared, such as tiredness, frequent urination, and tender breasts. A pregnancy test may help you confirm your suspicions, and most women take one about 1-2 weeks after a missed period.
Since you were on the pill, pregnancy may not be an event you anticipated. As you work through your options of parenting, adoption, and abortion, it’s important to ask questions of your healthcare provider or pregnancy consultant to better understand how you may want to move forward with an unexpected pregnancy decision.
Avenue Women’s Center is here to help guide you through each of your unexpected pregnancy decisions. If you suspect the birth control pill may have failed, then we can provide you with a free pregnancy test and consultation to aid you in the decision-making process. We will take the time to understand your unique situation to see how we can assist you. Contact us today to receive information about your unexpected pregnancy options!
- MedicalNewsToday. (2018, August). Can a person get pregnant while taking the pill? Retrieved from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322799.php#how-effective-is-the-pill
- WebMd. (2019, January). Why You Can get Pregnant on Birth Control. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/birth-control-failure-why#1-2
Reviewed by Patricia Kuenzi, APN-CNP, MSN, ANP, PNP.
The information provided here is general in nature. It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention. Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.