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Do I Need to Switch the Time I Take the Pill When Traveling Between Time Zones?

Susan Vachon

Medically reviewed by Susan Vachon, PA-C on January 13, 2020

Yes, you do need to switch the time you take your pill because your body remains on your home clock though the actual time in your current city is different. When taking progestin-only birth control pills, maintaining a strict time schedule is primarily important.

For instance, if you take a four-hour flight from the east coast to the west coast, you will lose time, meaning your internal clock says it’s now 5 p.m., but the local time is 2 p.m.

Whatever the time zone you’re in, subtract hour difference from your hometown and subtract the same number of hours from your regularly scheduled birth control dose.

United States Time Zone Differences

When it is 3 p.m. in Pacific Standard Time (PST), it’s 4 p.m. in Mountain Standard Time (MST), and so on:

  • Pacific (PST) – 3 p.m.
  • Mountain (MST) – 4 p.m.
  • Central (CST) – 5 p.m.
  • Eastern (EST) – 6 p.m.

Arizona and other parts of the world do not recognize daylight saving time, so local time may differ than the time zone example listed. Ask for the local time and compare the time with your home time to calculate the difference.

When traveling internationally, the airport or local train station may have clocks that read times all over the world so you can calculate the proper time to take your birth control pill in another time zone. Alternatively, you can ask the attendant at the counter.

If all of this sounds too complicated for a brief trip out of your local time zone, continue to take your pill at the same time daily, but use alternative birth control, like a condom, for the duration of your stay and two weeks after returning to ensure protection.

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