Readers Digest
Magazine subscription Podcast
HomeHealthHealth Conditions

Medical myths: You can't get pregnant when you're on the pill

Medical myths: You can't get pregnant when you're on the pill

Know your medical facts from myths? There are a lot of old wives' tales out there. But where do they come from and what is the truth? This week, does taking the pill really leave you immune to pregnancy?

Where did the myth come from?

There’s no doubt the invention of the oral contraceptive pill revolutionised women’s lives and enabled them to be in control of their fertility. But many people wrongly assume that it’s 100 per cent effective.

In fact, during one year, between five and eight women out of 100 taking the pill will fall pregnant (yet this rises to nearly 20 per cent for women who only use condoms). 


What's the truth?

Pregnant on the pill

No contraception can guarantee against pregnancy. The main reason the pill fails is because people don’t take it regularly—even missing one dose significantly increases the risk of falling pregnant.

It must also be taken at the same time each day to ensure a steady level of hormone in the blood. There’s some evidence that one antibiotic—rifampicin, used to treat TB—may affect the pill, so if you’re talking both you should discuss your options with your GP.


So, what's the answer?

A woman on the pill must endeavour to take it at the same time every day as prescribed. Missing doses is the primary reason why the pill isn’t 100-per-cent effective.

If doses are missed, then don’t assume you’re covered by just starting to take them again. Keep taking the pill but speak to your GP or health advisor and, until you do this, use an alternative form of contraception.

This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you. Read our disclaimer

Loading up next...
Stories by email|Subscription
Readers Digest

Launched in 1922, Reader's Digest has built 100 years of trust with a loyal audience and has become the largest circulating magazine in the world

Readers Digest
Reader’s Digest is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (which regulates the UK’s magazine and newspaper industry). We abide by the Editors’ Code of Practice and are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism. If you think that we have not met those standards, please contact 0203 289 0940. If we are unable to resolve your complaint, or if you would like more information about IPSO or the Editors’ Code, contact IPSO on 0300 123 2220 or visit