Birth Control Pills and Pregnancy

Women who are pregnant should never intentionally use birth control pills. Complications are not likely to occur if the pill is taken accidentally during early pregnancy, but you should stop using it as soon as you find out you are pregnant. If you want to prevent conception, you must remember to take your birth control pills.

Birth Control Pills and Pregnancy: An Overview

Birth control pills (oral contraceptives) should not be used intentionally in women who are already pregnant, as they serve no purpose. Although it is "common knowledge" that taking birth control pills during early pregnancy is dangerous, in reality, doing so is unlikely to cause serious problems.
For most women, a history of taking birth control pills is not likely to affect their ability to become pregnant once the pills are stopped.

Pregnancy Category X

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses a category system to classify the possible risks to a fetus when a specific medicine is taken during pregnancy. Pregnancy Category X is given to medications that should not be used during pregnancy, usually due to serious problems, such as birth defects or miscarriages.
Even though birth control pills are pregnancy Category X medications, they should not cause any problems if accidentally used during early pregnancy.
Although there were some concerns about problems possibly caused by original birth control pills, which contained a high dose of hormones when compared to today's pills, many studies have shown no increased risk of birth defects when the pills were accidentally taken in early pregnancy.
Often, women are concerned that the "female" hormones in birth control pills can harm male babies. However, all male fetuses are exposed to high levels of natural female hormones during pregnancy.
If you accidentally used birth control pills for a while before realizing you were pregnant, this should not cause any problems, although you should discuss this with your healthcare provider. If you are pregnant, stop using birth control pills right away. If you think you may be pregnant, contact your healthcare provider for further instructions.
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
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