When Daylight Saving Time (DST) hits, your daily schedule will likely experience a little bit of a shake-up. An hour of lost sleep is the norm, but aside from your children being extra exhausting, how does it affect your day-to-day life? Because when you're this worn out from the kids you already have, "spring forward" affecting birth control is a scary-sounding issue.
But luckily, your birth control should most likely be fine. "Most oral contraceptive pills maintain their full effect for at least 24 hours, and changing the timing by one hour one way or another will not make a difference in effectiveness," Dr. Jonathan Schaffir, OB-GYN at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells Romper.
Most people take a combination pill, which combines the hormones estrogen and progestin to inhibit ovulation and prevent pregnancy, according to The Mayo Clinic. Schaffir says that these pills are typically taken at the same time each day for consistency's sake. "The most important reason to take the pill at the same time every day is to make it part of one’s routine and not skip any days," he says.
What does this mean for DST? Basically, the time you take your pill can remain the same once you spring forward if you take a combination pill. "So if a woman is used to taking it at 10 p.m. every day, she should continue to do so whether it is 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time or 10 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time," Schaffir says.
If you take a minipill — the progestin-only version of a birth control pill — the answer of how to handle DST is a bit trickier. Due to the low dose of medication in the minipill, this type of contraception's peak effectiveness is approximately six hours after ingestion and starts to wear off beyond 24 hours, Schaffir tells Romper. "Women who use this method exclusively should try to take the medication at the same time every day, but before the time of day they are likely to have sex," he says.
So, if you take the minipill, you probably won't need to adjust for DST as long as you are taking your pill prior to the time when you're likely to have sex. However, if you take the pill more than three hours late, Schaffir says that a back-up form a contraception is necessary.
If springing forward for DST throws your schedule off to the point where you feel the need to change up your medication routine, you can safely change the time you take your birth control. Losing an hour of sleep can definitely throw a wrench in your day. So although it may take a bit of planning and math, if you need to switch the time you take your pill, it can be done.
Schaffir says that for women trying to prevent pregnancy, it's better to take the next dose of your pill early rather than late when making a change. "So if a woman who usually takes her pill at night decides to start morning dosing, starting the next day is OK, even if it has been less than 24 hours," he says. "If a woman who usually takes her pill in the morning wants to become a night-time taker, waiting until the following evening is still OK, provided that she then takes the pill regularly after that."
However, if you've just started a new pill pack and change the time you take your birth control, Schaffir says to use a backup form of contraception just to be on the safe side.
Dr. Jonathan Schaffir, MD, OB-GYN at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center