Asking for a Friend: What Happens When You Miss a Birth Control Pill?


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A recurring point of contention between my husband and me is my inability to remember to take my birth control pill. It's the same conversation each time. "It's so simple!" he insists. "It's just one pill you have to take every single day. Set an alarm! Put it on your nightstand!" I then provide him with several logistically sound reasons there's still room for error (maybe I'm not home and forgot to pack it, maybe my alarm goes off at an inopportune time) and conclude with, "Men should have to take the pill!" Then there are mutterings about the patriarchy, and we repeat the same conversation the next month when I inevitably forget—just some light talking points in the Malhado household.

I forget so frequently, though, that it makes me wonder how it's affecting my body. Will there be any long-term repercussions? Is it impacting my fertility? I know outright that it causes me to have two periods a month or become especially bloated, but what else is happening internally that I need to know about, aside from the obvious (possible pregnancy)? After talking with a group of friends and colleagues, it's clear that missing pills is a common and frequent issue, so I consulted Paula C. Brady, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center and reproductive endocrinologist at the Columbia University Fertility Center, to find out if being delinquent with contraception causes any harm to the body.

Speaking of emergency contraception, here are a few things you should know about taking Plan B.