New Health Guide

Getting Pregnant on the Pill

Aug 14, 2013

Oral contraceptives are usually collectively lumped into the phrase “The Pill”. These contraceptives are typically a combination of estrogen and progestin which interferes with the body’s ability to release an egg. So, is it possible to get pregnant on the Pill? The short answer is “Yes”, but there are a few essential things you should take notice to avoid getting pregnant on the pill.

Why Is It Possible to Get Pregnant on the Pill?

The only absolutely certain way to know you will not get pregnant is to practice abstinence. When you take the pill as directed, your chance of getting pregnant is about 1 out of 100 (or 1%). Knowing that the pill is not 100% effective, it is also important to know why you might get pregnant on the pill. If you know why you might get pregnant, you can take precautions that will lower your chances of pregnancy. The main reasons women get pregnant on the pill include:

1. Not taking the pill at the same time every day

In estrogen-containing pills, the level of estrogen has been decreased to a very low dose. In order to maintain the correct level of estrogen, it is critical to take the pill at the same time every day.

2. Missing a dose

This is a more serious cause for pregnancy. For the same reason, missing a dose means that the estrogen level is much lower than it should be. Most healthcare providers will tell you to double up on the pill the next day but be sure to consult your doctor before doing that. You should also use some other form of contraception until the estrogen level is re-established.

3. Alcohol consumption

Drinking alcohol or taking any other drug that is metabolized in the liver may slow the way the pill is absorbed in your body. Be sure your prescriber knows how much you drink before you leave the office with a prescription for the pill.

4. Seizure/ Antibiotics medication

Because of the way medications are metabolized by the liver, be sure your prescriber knows if you are taking seizure medications. Current research shows that antibiotics may also affect how the pill is metabolized, but blood levels of estrogen and progestin do not seem to be affected. If you are taking any medication, let your healthcare provider know before starting the pill.

5. Taking generic form of pills

A generic form of the pill may legally contain up to 15% less of the active ingredient than a name brand drug. This was not a problem when the dose of estrogen in the pill was high, but now that the low-dose pill is being used, a 15% variance can be a huge problem and may result in a sub-optimal level of drug in your body.

In order to improve the effectiveness of the pill, it is important to take the pill at the same time each day and EXACTLY as prescribed by your doctor!

Signs and Consequences of Getting Pregnant on the Pill

There are some things you should know about getting pregnant on the pill.

1. Signs

First, you should be aware of the signs of pregnancy so that you can know very early on if you might be pregnant. If your menstrual period is late or lighter than normal, it may be due to the pill or you might be pregnant. Nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness, excessive tiredness and more frequent urination are also signs of possible pregnancy.

2. Test by the doctor

If you think you might be pregnant, you can do a home pregnancy test. However, your healthcare provider can perform more accurate blood and urine tests and a physical exam to confirm or rule out a pregnancy. Your provider may also want to do an ultrasound test.

3. Negative effects on the fetus

If you get pregnant on the pill, the chances of the pill causing harm to the fetus are minimal. Most studies show that the pill does NOT cause physical harm to the fetus.