Whether you’re taking the combined pill or the progestogen-only pill (POP), you may know that it’s best to take your pill at roughly the same time each day. If you forget to take your pill , or take it later than usual, it could affect how well you are protected against pregnancy. But there’s no specific guidance on when in the day you should take your pill - morning, afternoon or night.
When is the best time of day to take contraceptive pills?
The reason there aren’t instructions on what time to take the pill is that it doesn’t matter - at least, not generally. The pill should contain enough hormones to last twenty-four hours before you need more, which is why you take a pill every day. There’s no evidence to suggest that the time of day you take the pill alters its effectiveness in any way.
One thing to take note of is any changes in time zone - if you travel to a time zone that’s three or more hours different to your own, you should take the pill at the equivalent time in that time zone.
For example, if your holiday location is three hours ahead and you take your pill at six o’clock usually, you should take it at nine o’clock local time. Whatever time of day you decide to take the pill, it’s important to remember to take it at the same time every day to maximise its effectiveness.
For each person, however, some times of the day might be better than others. Let’s take a more in depth look at how that works.
Taking the pill in the morning is a good option for many people. Mornings often involve routines, and tying your pill-taking to a routine may make it easier to remember to take it. For example, you could take it after brushing your teeth or before having breakfast.
Some people find taking the pill in the morning is good because then they don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day. If you worry about forgetting your pill, taking it in the morning may help to stop you worrying about it for the rest of the day.
On the other hand, taking the pill in the morning could put you at greater risk of accidentally missing a dose. If you’re prone to oversleeping, taking the pill later in the day may be a better option for you. Even if you usually wake up early, it’s important to consider the impact of nights out, jet lag or lie-ins on taking contraceptive pills.
Afternoon pill-takers shouldn’t usually have to worry about sleep schedules affecting how they take the pill - although jet lag can still be an issue. Routines can be incorporated at this time of day as well. For example, you might take your pill after lunch, or before having your evening meal.
However, if you spend long portions of the day away from home on a regular basis - to attend school or work, perhaps - you’ll have to remember to take your contraceptive pills with you. Taking it at home might be more convenient, in which case taking the pill at a different time of day might be better for you.
Like the morning, the late evening and night-time provide a wealth of opportunities to tie the act of taking the pill to a routine.
If you regularly go to bed at different times, though, you’ll need to take account of this and make sure you take the pill at the right time, rather than with the same action. For example, if you go to bed at 10 o’clock on weeknights, but 11 o’clock on weekends, you’ll need to remember to take the pill at 10 o’clock on weekends, too.
In addition, vomiting can stop your contraceptive pill from working. If you think you may often experience nausea - for example after eating or drinking something that upsets your stomach - it may be better to take your pill at a different time.