A few years ago I was a young-ish tech exec working for a U.S. startup. I was based in Europe, traveling to the U.S on a monthly basis and dating someone who lived in Canada. And at the time the birth control pill was my contraceptive of choice. With many hours spent on transatlantic flights, in different timezones and with a body and mind exhausted by what felt like a continuous two-year-long jet lag, taking the birth control pill on time every day eventually turned into somewhat of a big challenge for me.

No matter how hard you try, stuff happens and at some point you sleep through that 3am birth control alarm one (very, very early) morning and wake up in yet another hotel room a few hours later thinking “Shit. Is that it for the month now?”.

Not really knowing or frankly making the effort to do the research (because complicated), my default answer at the time was always: Yep. That’s it. Better be safe than sorry. I didn’t want to get pregnant at the time and I remember often feeling like I was “doing hormonal birth control to my body for nothing”.

Needless to say: It sucked.

And as it turns out now, according to data shared by UK-based contraception review platform The Lowdown, I’m by far not the only one who ever struggled to take that birth control pill on time.

According to a 2019 study, 39% of millennial women missed their contraceptive pill at least once a month, with 39% also reporting they do not take the pill at the same time each day, potentially missing their ‘safe window’. 21% of these users also attribute missing their pill to stress, something that has become a widespread issue during the pandemic – particularly for women.

Pretty crazy stats, huh? It truly continues to amaze me how often I think I’m an “edge case” and then see data that shows how many other women are actually experiencing the exact same thing. We sometimes forget in the femtech community and bubble, but women’s health stigma and lack of awareness still are very real, y’all!

But I digress. So in order to take the guesswork out of missed birth control pills The Lowdown has launched a new digital missed pill calculator to help minimize the risk of pregnancy for contraceptive pill users and help answer the ultimate question: “I missed the pill again. What should I do now?”

Image: The Lowdown

The new tool has been developed by The Lowdown’s medical team, Dr Fran Yarlett, Dr Melanie Davis-Hall and Dr Becky Mawson, using official guidance from the Faculty of Reproductive and Sexual Health, who write the guidelines on contraception in the UK. The calculator is based on a “world-first algorithm” asking users a number of questions dependent on their type and brand of combined or progesterone only pill. Based on the user’s situation, they will be presented with 1 of 16 different outcomes. Each outcome is labelled CODE GREEN, CODE AMBER or CODE RED to make it obvious whether a user might be at risk of pregnancy and the urgency of any recommended actions.

The Lowdown Founder, Alice Pelton, explains the idea behind the new service: “We actually couldn’t believe that the best way we have of figuring out what to do if you miss a pill is to read a complicated diagram in a patient information leaflet. It was time to innovate! This tool encapsulates everything we want to achieve at The Lowdown: digitizing the archaic world of contraception, and giving women and people with vaginas the power to manage it, in their own hands”.

The new missed pill calculator is live now and free to use for all. And for what it’s worth: Yours truly probably would have been a power user back in the good old days… ✌️

Wanna check it out for yourself? Head on over to The Lowdown and give it a try!

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