Why Daylight Saving Time Won’t Mess With Your Birth Control Schedule

A doctor explains why the pill will keep working just fine.

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Get your sleep in while you can: Daylight Saving Time begins soon, and it's always a pain to adjust to. Sure, you get extra daylight, and the sun starts setting later, but it's still not ideal to have to make up that hour of sleep after “springing forward.” If you’re the kind of person who likes to keep a strict daily schedule, from the time you get up to the time you take your birth control, Daylight Savings Time can throw a bit of a wrench into second week of March. But can Daylight Savings Time mess with your birth control schedule?

Birth control pills work at their absolute best when you take them consistently, at the same time every day. Doing so allows there to be enough hormones (either estrogen and progestin, depending on the kind of pill you take) in your system to prevent you from ovulating. Ovulation is the time of the month you can become pregnant: the body sends an egg through your fallopian tubes and into your uterus, where it can be fertilized by sperm. Taking the pill at wildly different times or skipping a day completely can mess with its effectiveness, because it changes the amount of hormones in your system, potentially triggering ovulation. So if the clocks change, does that mean you also need to change the time you take your pill?

“The change of an hour does not play a huge factor when it comes to oral contraceptive pills,Dr. Tahir Chauhdry D.O., chairman of the OB/GYN department at Olean General Hospital, tells Bustle. There's a safe window of time when the effectiveness of your birth control pill won't be compromised, around one or two hours before or after when you normally take it. For example, if you take your pill at 4 p.m. every day, taking it at 3 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. isn't going to put you at an increased risk of getting pregnant. And since Daylight Saving Time only brings us ahead one hour, it won't make your pill less effective if you take it at 5 p.m. on Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday.

You'll just want to make sure you keep the difference at about an hour or so. “Most traditional oral contraceptive pills that are estrogen-based are strong enough to withstand an hour earlier or later,” Dr. Chauhdry says. As Planned Parenthood points out, a progestin-only pill gives you a little less wiggle room: "Taking a progestin-only pill more than three hours past your usual time puts you at risk for pregnancy, so if that happens use a back-up method (like condoms) for the following 48 hours (two days)." But one hour of difference won't be a big deal.

If you're really worried about the pill's effectiveness, then you can feel free to adjust the time you're taking the pill — so, if you normally take it at 4 p.m., then after Daylight Saving Time, you would take it at 3 p.m. instead — or you can use a backup method like condoms. But you don’t need to: your pill's effectiveness will be just as fine as long as you keep up your routine.


Dr. Tahir Chauhdry D.O.

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