Changing The Time You Take Birth Control Can Be Tricky: Here's How To Do It Safely

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For many types of birth control, taking each dose with regularity is crucial. But even the most diligent people have to deal with schedule changes or daylight saving time shifts. Learning how to change the time you take your birth control safely is important when making these adjustments. To learn more, Romper spoke with OB-GYN Rachel Zigler, MD.

In general, switching up your birth control time will depend heavily on the type of contraceptive you use. Really, the pill is the only method that needs to be worried about daily, as Zigler explained. For instance, people on combined hormone pills (which have both estrogen and progestin) tend to be OK as long as they take the pill each day, according to Planned Parenthood. A few minutes of change from day to day won't make a huge difference.

“With combination birth-control pills, taking them at the exact time is not that important,” said Alice Hill, a Los Angeles OBGYN, in Splinter. “We tell people to take them at the same time just so they form the habit of doing it every day. But they are still protected as long as they take it daily.” In other words, if you take the combined pill at 6:00 a.m. every day, for instance, then the hourly shifts from daylight saving time won't make a huge difference. Feel free to leave birth control changes off the list of reasons you hate daylight saving time.

The progesterone-only pills are much more time sensitive, however. Also known as the mini-pill, the progesterone-only pill typically has fewer side effects, according to Family Doctor. This makes it a good choice for women who dislike the side effects of the combination pill, as well as those who are breastfeeding. However, it must be taken at the same time every day to be most effective.

"Progesterone-only pills are most sensitive to time changes as they really need to be taken on time to be effective," said Zigler. "There is a 3-hour window to provide a bit of wiggle room (so, if you take your pill at 8 am every day, you have until about 11 am on the next day to take the next pill) for progesterone-only pills, but obviously, they are quite time sensitive and the closer to on time, the better." Asking your healthcare provider for advice about timing is a smart move for anyone who has questions about this time-sensitive method of birth control. It's smart to have a backup contraception such as condoms on hand at all times when you're on the progesterone-only pills.

Of course, daylight saving time isn't the only thing that may affect your birth control routine. Sometimes you may need to transition to a different schedule entirely. For instance, if someone wants to start taking the pill in the evening instead of the morning, what precautions should be used?

In general, the easiest way to switch times is to finish your current pack, then start taking your new pack of birth control pills at the adjusted time, as noted in Bedsider. As always, if you have any questions or concerns about this adjustment, then reach out to your doctor. Everyone's birth control experience is a little different, so some tailored advice is always smart.

If the schedule isn't working for you that well — say you regularly forget to take the pill for a day or two at a time — then there are loads of birth control options that don't rely on a daily schedule at all. Options such as the birth control shot, patch, and implant are as effective (if not more so) than taking the birth control pill, and they don't require any daily routines, as noted in Planned Parenthood. The patch lasts for 3 weeks, the shot lasts for 3 months, and the implant lasts for around 4 years, they explained. These family planning options are a great idea for anyone with an uncertain schedule, or people who simply don't like the hassle of remembering to take a pill every day. Basically, there are a wealth of birth control options available for every lifestyle and routine.

Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.