You can take your contraceptive pills at any convenient time you want. What matters is that you consistently take it at around the same time every day.
If you’re wondering whether it’s possible and safe to change the timing, you absolutely can do so.
But, it’s important to do it properly so you’re still fully protected as you transition to your new schedule. Read further to find out how to change the time you take your pills.
Why does consistent timing matter?
It’s always a good idea to take your pills every day at around the same time. However, you don’t necessarily have to be on the dot all the time because pills have a “safe” window.
If you’re taking progestin-only pills, you need to take it at about the same time within a 3-hour window. Taking it three hours beyond your usual time won’t guarantee you full protection. It will be considered as a missed pill.
What’s the best way to change the time you take your pills?
It may be easier to finish your pack before changing the time you take your pills so you don’t get confused. But the best way to do it depends on what kind of pills you’re taking.
Combination pills (estrogen + progesterone)
The general rule is that each dose should be taken within 24 hours of the previous one.
Here are your options if you’re taking combination pills.
- If you want to change to an earlier time, simply take your next pill at the earlier time that you want.
For example, you want to move from 8PM to 7PM. You can take your next pill at 7PM. Then continue taking the following pills at your new schedule, which is 7PM. That’s still within 24 hours.
- If you want to change to a later time, you’ll have to take two pills for one day — one at your usual time, then another at your new time.
If, for example, you usually take your pill at 10AM and want to switch to 6PM, take one pill at 10AM, Then take another pill at 6PM, your new schedule. Then for the following days, consistently take your pills at the new time.
You’ll still be protected from pregnancy, but take note that this may mean you’ll be finishing the pack a day earlier than usual. This is alright, as long as you take your pills correctly and consistently.
You’ll have to make some adjustments over a few days to reach your preferred time because this kind of pill only has a 3-hour safe window.
For example you usually take your pills at 10AM, but would like to change it to 3PM. Take your pill at your usual time, which is 10AM. The next day, take your pill at a later time but still within the 3-hour window, like 12PM. Do this for the following days until you reach your desired time.
How can you ensure you’re still protected as you transition?
Transitioning to a new schedule is absolutely safe as long as the total number of hours that have passed from your previous pill doesn’t exceed the recommended time window.
Remember that it’s 24 hours for combination pills, and 3 hours for progestin-only pills.
But if you go beyond the safe window, you need to use a backup method, such as condoms, to protect yourself from pregnancy.
For progestin-only pill users, use a backup method for the next two days.
Those taking combination pills would have to use a backup method for the next seven days.
What are the common experiences that may occur as you adjust to your new schedule?
Spotting and irregular bleeding are the most common experiences when you transition to a new schedule (like when you’re starting the pills for the first time).
There’s nothing to worry about, because these will go away once your body has adjusted to the new schedule — just make sure you take the following pills correctly and consistently.
If you’re concerned about menstrual irregularities, it’s best to consult your doctor about this.