If you’re not using your birth control pills right now, you can save unused pill packs for later. Here’s what you need to know.
When you stop
When you stop taking oral contraceptives, you’ll be able to get pregnant right away. So if you do have sex after you stop taking your pill and before you start taking it again, make sure to use another method, like condoms.
“It’s not dangerous or harmful to go on and off the pill,” Planned Parenthood says on their website. “But any time there’s a change in your hormones, there’s a chance of temporary side effects, like changes to your period.”
When you start up again
Your old pill packs will still be good to use, as long as they’re still full (no missing pills) and they haven’t passed their expiration date.
If you use a progestin-only pill, you’ll still be able to get pregnant for the first 48 hours, so make sure to use alternate methods during that time.
With a combination pill, the amount of time it takes for the pill to become effective depends on when in your cycle you start taking it. If you start within the first five days after the start of your period, you’re protected right away. If you’re not within that window or if you’re not sure, use a backup method for seven days.
Family Planning NSW recommends a similar timeframe adding if it’s been more than 48 hours between the last time you took a pill, you’ll need to use other forms of contraceptive in the meantime.
“Take a pill when you remember, and the next pill at the usual time. Then keep on taking the pills as usual, but use other contraception (such as condoms) as well, for the next seven days,” its fact sheet reads.