Does The Clocks Going Back Affect My Pill? Here's What You Need To Know To Ensure You Stay Protected

Studio KIWI/Shutterstock

Prepare to experience a slightly inaccurate body clock for a minimum of four entire weeks, friends: the clocks turn back at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, granting you an hour of extra sleep and at least a whole month of waking up way before your alarm. In the smartphone era, few of us need to worry about manually adjusting our clocks — but there is the issue of when to take time-sensitive medication. Thus, the common question across forums and social media: does the clocks going back affect my pill? An unwanted pregnancy probably isn't worth one solitary lie-in — so here's everything you need know if you're taking the birth control pill.

Breathe a deep sigh of relief and luxuriate in that extra hour under the duvet, fretters: the switch back to Greenwich Mean Time doesn't require any adjustment to your contraceptive pill schedule. According to the NHS, both the combined pill (a pill that contains artifical versions of both oestrogen and progesterone) and the progestogen-only pill (as the name suggests, it contains only progestogen) have a window of time in which they can be taken, though it differs depending on the type of pill. Significantly, the effectiveness of neither pill should be affected by a one-hour variation in your daily routine.

Giphy

For those on the combined pill (brands include Microgynon, Yasmin, Cilest, and Rigevidon), the NHS says that you haven't missed a pill until it's "more than 24 hours since you should have taken it," though it's best to take it at about the same time every day. The window of error is a little smaller for progestogen-only pills, though still wide enough to accommodate the clocks going back. For "traditional" progestogen-only pills, like Micronor, Norgeston, and Noriday, you've missed a pill if you take it over three hours late, while for desogestrel pills like Cerelle and Cerazette, you're still protected from pregnancy up to 12 hours after the time you usually take it.

In short, though you should stick to a fairly strict schedule when taking your contraceptive pill — particularly if it's a progestogen-only pill — the slight fluctuation caused by the return to Greenwich Mean Time shouldn't affect your coverage against pregnancy. If you're still unsure about exactly how you should be taking your contraceptive pill, it's worth speaking to your nurse or doctor to clear up any uncertainty.

Leandro Crespi/Stocksy

U.S. reproductive nonprofit Planned Parenthood echoes the advice of the NHS on their official Tumblr; in fact, it specifically refers to the impact of the clocks changing on the effectiveness of the contraceptive pill, should you need a little extra reassurance (the post refers to the switch to Daylight Saving Time, or British Summer Time, in the spring, but the advice holds for the autumn.) "While it’s better to take your birth control pills at the same time every day, daylight savings doesn’t present a problem. (Otherwise we’d see a spike in unintended pregnancies at the same times every year!)" the organisation advises. Like the NHS, Planned Parenthood points out that both types of birth control have a window of time in which they're effective.

So there you have it: the clocks going back poses absolutely no risk to the effectiveness of your birth control. Take your pill at the usual time, and rest easy knowing that you're covered (then rest for a whole hour longer, because you can.)