Getting Pregnant On The Pill

Can You Get Pregnant on the Pill?

Millions of women around the world rely on the contraceptive pill to prevent unwanted pregnancies. How high is the risk of getting pregnant on the pill? How can you tell whether you are pregnant? Find out all you need to know about the pill and pregnancy.

Dr Simran Deo Medical Editor

Medically reviewed by

Dr Simran Deo

Last reviewed: 08 Dec 2019

What Are the Chances of Getting Pregnant on the Pill?

The contraceptive pill is considered one of the most effective contraceptives. With ideal use, the pill is 99% effective. Out of 100 women who use the pill over the course of one year, less than one will get pregnant. The pill is considered to be more effective than the use of condoms alone.However, the safety of your contraception depends on how you take your pill. It is important that you follow the instructions in the patient leaflet carefully. You should take care not to forget to take the pill and always check whether any medication you are prescribed could reduce the effectiveness of the pill.The pill works in three ways to stop you getting pregnant. It suppresses ovulation, which means that your ovaries won’t release a mature egg. In addition, the pill thickens the mucus at the entrance to the womb, which makes it harder for sperm to enter. Finally, the hormones in the pill can cause changes to the lining of your womb. These changes reduce the risk of a fertilised egg implanting. Only if all three three fail will you become pregnant.

What Increases My Risk of Pregnancy?

In most cases where women become pregnant despite being on the pill, contraception fails because the pill wasn’t taken correctly. If you take it exactly as advised, your risk of getting pregnant is minimal. If you have any questions about how to use the pill, read the patient leaflet or ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice. You can reduce your risk of pregnancy further by using condoms in addition to taking the pill. Condoms will also protect you from sexually transmitted diseases, which is particularly important if you have sex with changing partners.

Can You Get Pregnant on the Mini Pill?

The mini pill contains one hormone (unlike combined pills which contain two different hormones) and it is usually taken every day without a break. It is just as effective in preventing pregnancy as combined pills if it is taken correctly. As with combined pills, taking the mini pill as advised is key. If you forget a pill or take it late, you increase your risk of getting pregnant. While most combined pills can be taken within a 12 hour window, many minipills need to be taken within a three hour window. It is therefore particularly important that you take your mini pill on time.

Getting Pregnant - What Are the Symptoms?

Whether you are taking the pill or not, the first symptoms of pregnancy can include:

  • tender or swollen breasts
  • urinating more often than usual
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fatigue
  • cravings for and aversions to certain foods

Although it is unlikely that you get pregnant while using contraception, you should always see a doctor or take a test if you’re in doubt.

Does the Pill Affect Pregnancy Tests?

The pill does not have an impact on the results of a pregnancy test. Pregnancy tests work by detecting a particular hormone, which is only produced during pregnancy. If you think that you are pregnant despite taking the pill, you can use a pregnancy test. However, you should consult your GP to confirm whether you are pregnant.

Does the Pill Increase the Risk of an Ectopic Pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilised egg develops in a fallopian tube rather than in the womb. Women who get pregnant while using certain contraceptives, such as a contraceptive coil, have a higher risk of an ectopic pregnancy. There is currently no evidence to suggest that women who get pregnant on the pill have an increased risk of an ectopic pregnancy as well.

However, if you experience symptoms such as severe abdominal pain or unexplained bleeding, you should always seek medical help immediately, so your doctor can check whether you are pregnant.

Patient Reviews