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Simpler guidance on missed pills

FPA’s new guidelines on missed pills much clearer for women and doctors

Louise Prime

Thursday, 19 May 2011

New guidelines on what a woman should do if she forgets to take her contraceptive pills will be much simpler for her and her doctor or nurse to follow, says the FPA.

The FPA said women, as well as health professionals, found the previous advice on missed pills complicated, confusing and conflicting. The charity has worked with the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare Clinical Effectiveness Unit, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and pharmaceutical companies to come up with much clearer recommendations on what a woman should do if she misses one or more contraceptive pills. The new guidance completely replaces the old.

Lynn Hearton, FPA helpline and information services manager, said: “We’ve been working hard in consultation with other organisations to draw up simpler, more consistent guidelines. Women who have missed taking their pills should now receive the same advice from wherever they seek information.”

The new guidelines on missed pills, below, are included in the FPA’s leaflet Your guide to the combined pill.

The guidelines for one missed pill:

  • Take the last pill you missed now (even if that means you take two in one day)
  • Continue taking the rest of the pack as usual
  • No additional or emergency contraception necessary.

The guidelines for two or more missed pills:

  • Take the last pill you missed now (even if that means you take two in one day)
  • Continue taking the rest of the pack as usual
  • Leave any earlier missed pills
  • Use an additional method of contraception for the next seven days
  • If you have had unprotected sex in the previous seven days, you may need emergency contraception. Seek advice.
  • If there are seven or more pills left in the pack, finish the pack and have the usual seven-day break. If there are fewer than seven pills left, finish the pack and begin a new one the next day.

These recommendations apply to all combined oral contraceptive pills except the quadriphasic pill Qlaira, which contains estradiol valerate instead of ethinylestradiol. Women who miss a Qlaira pill should seek advice from a health professional.

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