As a result of offering frank and genius advice on topics like staying in shape while traveling and mastering the art of having super-hydrated, glowy skin, Shay Mitchell radiates the energy of a super-cool and informed wellness-loving BFF who can dish about anything. Another thing the actress isn’t opposed to discussing candidly? Birth control. Specifically, the surprising mistake she made in using it correctly over the years.
Through her involvement with the Know Your Birth Control campaign, which aims to educate and empower women about contraception options available, Mitchell learned she’s been guilty of a common no-no for quite some time: taking her pill at irregular hours. “It was interesting because I could have sworn I knew everything [about birth control], but there were some things I didn’t. For instance, you have to take a pill at the same time every single day,” Mitchell tells Well+Good. “I’m constantly setting reminders on my phone so I don’t forget, but it’s something you get used to after a while.”
“I could have sworn I knew everything, but there were some things I didn’t. For instance, you have to take a pill at the same time every single day.” —Shay Mitchell, on the birth control pill
The notion of safely taking the pill at anytime without compromising its effects is a popular one hardly unique to Mitchell, according to Beth McAvey, MD, a fertility specialist in Progyny’s Provider Network. But, that daily window of pill efficacy might even be smaller than you realize—and it also depends on the type of pill you take.
“There should be no difference in effectiveness of a combined oral contraceptive pill if only two hours has passed. However, certain progestin-only contraceptive pills are less effective with longer elapses,” Dr. McAvey says. “If your birth control pill is a progestin-only pill and more than three hours have elapsed, I would recommend using a backup contraception method for the next several days.”
So, while you’re not alone in your struggle sticking to a pill timetable, Mitchell’s trick of setting a daily alarm can help ensure the method stays effective. Eventually, you’ll get in a habit—no reminder needed.
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