Preparing for a vacation is often stressful, and in those last busy minutes of packing, it’s easy to forget very important items. Most things can be purchased at your destination, but when you forget to pack your birth control pills, it can have a life-changing effect. Before you panic, follow these tips to guard against pregnancy when you find yourself far away from home with no birth control pills in sight!
Contact your pharmacy
Call your pharmacy as soon as you realize you forgot your birth control pills. They may be able to refill on an emergency basis and send it to a partnering pharmacy near you. Or they can transfer your prescription to a different pharmacy closer to you. Keep in mind you may have to pay for them out of pocket since most insurance companies will not cover this.
If traveling to a different time zone, make sure you calculate the time difference so you stay on track to keep taking the pill at the same time every day. If you normally take your pill at 9 am every day in New York, When in California, take it at 6 am.
Can you buy birth control pills without a prescription?
In some countries, you can buy the pill without a prescription. Find out which countries allow buying the pill without a prescription HERE.
If you have no way to replace your birth control pills and will be without them for more than a day, you will need to use a backup plan. Condoms plus spermicidal gels offer the most protection and are the most convenient to find.
Missing just one pill can result in pregnancy if you engage in unprotected sex.
Birth control pills are designed to deliver a consistent amount of progesterone, estrogen, or both for 21 consecutive days — preventing pregnancy by averting ovulation and fertilization. Missing just one pill can result in pregnancy if you engage in unprotected sex, but condom use depends on the dosage of estrogen and the number of pills missed.
If your birth control pill delivers 30 mcg of estrogen or more, you can miss two consecutive pills without fearing pregnancy. Missing three or more pills requires condom use for at least seven days of consecutive pill use. If your birth control delivers less than 30 mcg of estrogen, you can only miss one pill without using a condom. Missing two of these lower dose pills requires condom use for at least seven days of consecutive pill use.
Resuming birth control pills after skipping on vacation
If you miss just a day, you can double up the following day. However, it’s worth noting that even missing one pill can compromise the effectiveness.
Another factor is the place in your pack when the pills were missed. Missing one to two pills during the first two weeks of your pack can increase your risk of pregnancy. Use back-up birth control for seven days after missing the pills to ensure pregnancy prevention. During this time, you can take two pills in one day to “catch-up” on the pills you missed until you’re back on track.
When forgetting becomes a habit
If you repeatedly forget your birth control pills and travel often, or if you simply overlook taking them even while you are home, consider using another long-term method such as an IUD or an injection. Place a pill pack into your bag all the time so you have it on you when you travel. You can also opt for a more regular diaphragm or sponge (which can also be left behind on vacation but can be effective right before sex, unlike the pill which needs to be taken daily).
Birth control pills are a highly effective means of preventing pregnancy and maintaining a normal, patterned menstrual cycle. Taking your pills at the same time each day prevents you from missing one or more pills and, subsequently, increasing the risk.