To put it simply: yes, you can get pregnant on the pill. No form of birth control is completely foolproof or offers a 100% guarantee.

However, when taken correctly, the chances of falling pregnant on the contraceptive pill become incredibly low.

So, what are the odds of getting pregnant on the pill?

While the short answer to “can you get pregnant on birth control pills?” might be yes, the long answer is yes, but you probably won’t.

With perfect usage, the pill is 99.7% effective. Taking typical usage into account (i.e. occasionally forgetting to take the pill), this effectiveness drops to 91% – still a pretty high number. This means only about 9/100 women on the pill will become pregnant.

These rates are the same for both the combined pill and mini pill.

Reasons the Pill Can Fail

Certain circumstances can increase the chance of the pill failing (and therefore increase the chance of you getting pregnant). These include:

  • Time variance – It’s important to take your pill in the same 3-hour window every day, particularly if you’re using the mini pill. This helps keep your hormones at a consistent level. (Tip: Set a daily reminder so you always take your pill at the same time.)
  • Vomiting – If you throw up shortly after taking your pill, it may come up or fail to absorb completely into your body. This can lead the pill to failing, so make sure to take a replacement pill if this happens.
  • Missing a pill – Birth control pills are designed to be taken daily, so missing even a single day could lead to a failure.
  • Missing a day between packs – It’s important to have your next pack ready to go when you finish your current pack. There shouldn’t be any skipped days between finishing a pack and starting the next one.
  • Taking other medications – Certain medications can interfere with the effectiveness of the birth control pill. These include some antibiotics, some anti-fungal drugs, epilepsy medication, St. John’s Wort, and some anti-viral HIV medications.

If any of these factors are regular concerns for you, you might wish to speak with your doctor for advice or consider an alternative type of birth control.

For example, if you have trouble remembering to take the pill each day around the same time, you may have a better chance of preventing pregnancy using condoms, diaphragms, contraceptive implants, or an IUD.

How to Increase the Effectiveness of the Pill

Now you know you can get pregnant while on the pill, you most likely want some tips for minimising this risk. Some easy things you can do to increase the effectiveness of your birth control pills include:

  • Set reminders for taking the pill at the same time every day or download a period tracker app that will help you do this.
  • Always take a replacement pill as soon as possible if you realise you’ve missed one.
  • Use another type of contraception or refrain from having sex if you’ve missed a pill.
  • Buy your next pack well before your current pack runs out. (Handy: With a Youly membership, you won’t need to remember – we’ll send your next pack at the right time.)
  • Always read and follow the instructions that come with your birth control pills.

Ready to buy your next contraceptive pill? Get them discreetly delivered for free with Youly right here.