Nicole Wendler has a doctorate in biology from the field of oncology and immunology. As a medical editor, author and proofreader, she works for various publishers, for whom she presents complicated and extensive medical issues in a simple, concise and logical manner.
Pregnant despite the pill – this is possible? Even the safest contraceptive does not protect 100 percent against pregnancy. If you make mistakes when taking the pill or your body does not absorb the hormones properly, you may become pregnant unintentionally. Find out here how safe the pill is and the reasons why some women become pregnant despite taking the pill.
Can I be pregnant despite taking the pill??
The pill is one of the safest contraceptives. If you do everything right when taking the pill, it is relatively unlikely to get pregnant despite taking the pill.
In order to better compare the reliability of contraceptives, there is the so-called Pearl Index: The pill and the micropill are far ahead in terms of safety, with values between 0.1 and 0.9. With a Pearl index of 0.1, only one in 1000 women will become pregnant within a year despite taking the pill.
The mini pill performs somewhat worse (0.5 to 3). Especially with the older version with levonorgestrel, the protection decreases if you do not adhere exactly to the intake time.
No matter which pill you choose: From the first tablet on the first day of menstrual bleeding, you are protected against conception.
Why does the pill sometimes not protect?
If the monthly bleeding stops, many women ask themselves: Am I pregnant? It can happen despite the pill. There are several reasons why the pill occasionally does not work.
Forgetting the pill
The most common reason women get pregnant despite taking the pill is that they simply forgot to take it. As a general rule, you should get into the habit of taking the pill at the same time every day. The more often you deviate from the usual time of taking the pill, the more likely it is that you will become pregnant despite taking the pill.
Pregnant despite the pill due to other medications
Some medicines can impair the effect of the pill by blocking or reducing the absorption of the hormones. If certain antibiotics are taken at the same time, for example, a contraceptive method other than the pill may temporarily be necessary. The safety and effectiveness of the pill may not be guaranteed. Other medications, as well as St. John’s wort (herbal antidepressant) and activated charcoal (for diarrhea and poisoning), also reduce the contraceptive effect.
In general, if you are using the pill for contraception, you should read the package leaflet for each medicine carefully. If there are any interactions with the pill, ask your doctor whether it is necessary to protect yourself against pregnancy in another way.
Pregnant despite taking the pill due to gastrointestinal illness
Another common reason for the pill not working is gastrointestinal disorders. If you have to vomit or go to the toilet because of diarrhea within four hours after taking the pill, the body has not had enough time to absorb the hormones. It is then necessary to take a new pill within the tolerance periods of the respective preparation. Otherwise you may become pregnant – despite taking the pill.
Pregnant despite taking the pill – possible signs
If there is no bleeding at the end of the cycle, most women are worried and suspect pregnancy. However, a lack of bleeding does not necessarily mean that you have become pregnant despite taking the pill. Especially with the estrogen-free pill (mini-pill), it is more common for the cycle to be delayed or the monthly bleeding to stop altogether.
If you have forgotten to take the pill and had sexual intercourse in the week before you missed the pill or the pill was not properly absorbed by the body, pregnancy is possible. However, it also plays a role in which phase of the cycle you are in. Talk to your gynecologist promptly. You may actually become pregnant despite taking the pill.