Can Daylight Saving Time Mess Up Your Birth Control?

photographed by Megan Madden.
This weekend is the end of Daylight Saving Time, meaning the clocks "fall" back an hour and we supposedly gain an extra hour of sleep. As you prepare to switch all of your clocks — yes, including the one on your microwave — to the correct time, and invest in a therapy light, you might be wondering about another time-dependent thing in your life: your birth control pills.
If you take an oral contraceptive pill, you've probably heard how important it is to take it at the exact same time every single day. Being consistent about what time you take your pill makes the medication as effective as possible, and ensures that you won't get pregnant — which is definitely a goal of going on the pill. But if you're just one hour off, is that going to screw you up majorly? It shouldn't, but it does depend which kind of birth control pill you take.
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A combination birth control pill, which contains a blend of synthetic progesterone and estrogen, tends to be a little more forgiving of an hour difference than a progesterone-only pill, explains Jennifer Johnsen a representative for the organization Power to Decide. Progesterone-only pills are finicky, because they're not as good at suppressing ovulation, according to the Centres for Disease Control (CDC). That's also why progesterone-only pills have earned the nickname, "the mini pill."
Once you take a progesterone-only pill, it takes about two hours for the hormones to kick in, and after 24 hours, hormone levels return to their baseline, and it's time to take another pill, according to the CDC. If you're three or more hours late to take your progesterone-only pill, then it's considered a missed dose. In that case, you're supposed to take your pill as soon as possible, and use back-up contraception — like a condom — for at least two days after, according to the CDC.
The good news is that Daylight Saving Time only shifts time by one hour, so it shouldn't make a difference in your birth control routine. If you were, say, traveling to the other side of the earth, then you would want to pay closer attention to the time change. But this weekend, what's important is that you're as consistent as possible with your birth control routine. So, try to wake up around the same time as you normally would — even though your clock says you can sleep in.
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