🔷Does it matter if you’re late taking the pill as long as it’s in your usage window?
🔷What does a 3 or 12 hour usage window mean?
Combined pills and desogestrel mini pills have a 12 hour usage window. This means that from the time you take the pill one day, you can take your next day’s pill UP TO 12 hours later and remain protected. So if your “normal” pill taking time is 7am, but you decide to take it an hour early at 6am on day one, then on day 2, you have until 6pm to take the next dose or it is considered missed. Basically this means you can’t have more than 36 hours between doses (except on your break week, or if your pamphlet specified a different usage window).
The 36 hours comes from:
Pill One: taken at 6am (for example). You would normally try to take the next dose 24 hours later (at 6am the next day). But you can take it up to 12 hours late (6pm) and remain protected. This means there can be up to 36 hours between doses.
Norethindrone mini pills have a more strict usage window. On norethindrone mini pills, you need to take it within 3 hours of the time you took it the previous day in order to remain protected. This means you can have no more than 27 hours in between doses on norethindrone mini pills. So if you take it one day at 6am, you need to take it the next day by 9am in order to remain protected.
As long as you take your pill within your usage window, you are protected. It’s still a good idea to try and take your pill around the same time every day. Doing this helps reduce the chances of you forgetting to take a pill (we remember things better when it becomes a routine), and can also help alleviate annoying side effects like breakthrough bleeding, for some pill users. If you miss any pills (taken outside your usage window, had vomiting within 3 hours, had severe diarrhea, took a medication that makes the pill less effective, etc), consult your pamphlet for instructions.
Hope this helps 🙂