Can daylight savings time mess up the effectiveness of my birth control pills?

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Someone asked us:

I have been on the pill for two years now, but I never thought about the effect of daylight savings. I was on my reminder pills when the time changed. Then I started my new pack I took the pill late because of the time change. I also had unprotected sex. Was I protected? or can starting a new pack an hour late affect me?

If you were really only off by one hour, you’re fine. While it’s better to take your birth control pills at the same time every day, daylight savings doesn’t present a problem. (Otherwise we’d see a spike in unintended pregnancies at the same times every year!)

But the type of birth control you’re using and how late you took your pill does matter. If you’re on a combination pill (contains both estrogen and progestin), screwing it up by a few hours isn’t a big deal as long as you take it within that day. So for the hour change for daylight savings, you’re still in the safe window.

If you’re on a progestin-only pill (often called mini-pills), you have less wiggle room. Taking a progestin-only pill more than 3 hours past your usual time puts you at risk for pregnancy, so if that happens use a back-up method (like condoms) for the following 48 hours (2 days). You can also use emergency contraception as a back-up if you had unprotected sex after missing a pill. 

If you’re ever worried about messing up the timing of your pills, you can always contact your nurse or doctor for instructions on what to do if you miss a pill, and use a back-up method (like condoms) in the meantime.

 -Kendall at Planned Parenthood