Does Daylight Saving Time Screw Up Your Birth Control Pill Schedule?

The birth control pill can be a lifesaver for those wanting to clear up hormonal acne, regulate sporadic or painful periods, and, of course, avoid pregnancy. When taken properly at the same time every day, it's 99% effective at preventing conception, according to Planned Parenthood. However, because many people occasionally forget to take a pill or miss their usual dose time, the effectiveness rate, in reality, is closer to 93%.

To put this in perspective, if you miss three or more pills in your pack, or if you go 48 hours without taking a pill, you're no longer protected against unwanted pregnancy — even if you remember your daily dose the rest of your cycle (per Cleveland Clinic). That's because the hormones in birth control pills, when consumed regularly, pause ovulation, the time of the month when you're most fertile. No ovulation equals no chance of getting pregnant. However, without a steady stream of these hormones, you may ovulate as you would without the pill.

Clearly, it's a good idea to keep your birth control routine consistent, but what happens when your schedule shifts, like during daylight saving time? Here's what you should know about the pill when adjusting your clocks.

Shifting your schedule one hour likely won't affect your birth control

Anyone who's felt groggy after changing their clocks for daylight saving time knows how just one hour can impact their body. It would seem that this logic applies to birth control, too, since the pill must be taken at the same time each day. However, there's generally no need to worry, according to medical professionals. "The important thing about birth control pills is that you take them regularly," Dr. Hedieh Asadi, founder of DeoDoc Intimate Skincare, told Elite Daily. According to Dr. Asadi, the time difference "will not have any effect."

Ob-gyn Dr. Jonathan Schaffir of the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center agrees, confirming that it's usually okay to move your dose time by one hour. However, he notes one exception: progesterone-only pills, also known as "mini-pills." These pills start to lose effectiveness after 24 hours, so if anything, it's best to take them one hour earlier than one hour later.

How to safely change the time you take your birth control

While most types of birth control pills can be safely taken one hour earlier or later than usual, if you're worried, there are a few steps you can take. First, when daylight saving time starts in spring, you lose an hour, meaning your first pill after the time change will be taken one hour earlier than usual. This doesn't put you at risk of pregnancy, so continuing with your normal time is A-okay. However, for time adjustments where you gain an hour, like in the fall, taking the pill one hour earlier can be a smart choice.

Alternatively, you can choose a new time that works for your schedule and is easy to remember (when in doubt, set a reminder on your phone so you don't forget). According to Planned Parenthood, combination pills can be taken at a different time, as long as you take at least one every day — so if you want to switch from taking the pill every evening to the a.m. hours instead, go for it. However, if you choose to take a mini-pill more than three hours earlier or later than your usual time, abstain from sex for two days or use another birth control method, such as condoms, to avoid getting pregnant.