The effect of deliberate non-adherence to a norgestrel progestin-only pill: A randomized, crossover study

Anna Glasier, Alison Edelman, Mitchell D. Creinin, Vivian Brache, Carolyn L. Westhoff, Leo Han, Melissa J. Chen, Agnes Hemon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objectives: To estimate the effects on cervical mucus, ovarian activity and theoretical contraceptive protection of a 6-hour delay and of missing one norgestrel 0.075 mg progestogen-only pill. Study design: In a prospective, two-site, randomized, crossover study, healthy women aged 18 to 35 with BMI <32.0 kg/m² and regular ovulatory cycles completed a baseline 28-day cycle with correct daily pill use followed by two intervention cycles in which, around mid-cycle, one pill was taken 6 hours late or missed completely. We undertook ovarian ultrasonography, estradiol and progesterone measurement, and cervical mucus assessments every 3 to 4 days (daily around the time of the incorrect use) and based the theoretical contraceptive protection score on ovarian activity status, cervical mucus and their temporal relationship. Results: Of 91 potential participants screened, 52 started the study and 46 provided complete data for each intervention cycle. Fourteen participants (30%) ovulated in each of the two intervention cycles, with four during the delayed pill cycle and two during the missed pill cycle having an abnormal luteal phase. Seven participants in the delayed pill cycle, and six with a missed pill had elevated cervical mucus scores temporally associated with the intervention. However only two women, one in the delayed pill cycle and one in the missed pill cycle, had cervical mucus scores in the range considered favorable for fertility. Conclusions: Delayed or missed intake of a single norgestrel 0.075 mg progestogen-only pill appears to have little effect on theoretical contraceptive efficacy. Implications: This biomedical study suggests that taking a norgestrel 0.075mg progestogen-only pill 6 hours late or missing one pill have little effect on ovarian activity or cervical mucus and may not jeopardize contraceptive efficacy. Correlation with typical use outcomes is necessary to confirm pregnancy risk with delayed or missed norgestrel intake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Adherence
  • Cervical mucus
  • Missed pill
  • Norgestrel 0.075 mg
  • Ovulation
  • Progestogen-only pill

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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