Knowing when your chosen method of birth control has reached its full level of effectiveness is essential, as neglecting this detail can result in an unexpected pregnancy. The type of birth control, as well as when it’s used, can alter how long it takes to work. If your chosen method of birth control won’t work for a specified period, an alternate means of protection like a condom should be used.

Oral Contraceptives

Studies have shown that oral contraceptives are 99.7% effective when used correctly. There are two different types of birth control pills you can choose from: combination pills and progestin-only pills.

Combination Pills

There are three different ways that you can choose from when deciding when to take your first combination pill. The method that you choose will affect how quickly it can reliably prevent pregnancy.

The QuickStart Method

For this method, you take your first pill on the same day that you get them from the pharmacy, then continue taking them daily as directed. If you use the quick-start method, it can take up to seven days to become fully effective. If you plan on being sexually active in the seven days after you take your first pill, another method of protection will be required.

The Fifth-Day Start Method

For the fifth-day start method, you wait until the fifth day of your period before taking your first pill. Using the fifth-day method will help ensure that you are protected against pregnancy immediately after starting your first pill.

The Sunday Start Method

The Sunday start method means that you start your first pill on a Sunday. Starting your first pill on a Sunday and using them as directed every day after that will ensure that you don’t get your period on the weekend. Similar to the quick start method, another method of reliable protection will be required for the first seven days after starting your first pill.

Progestin Only Pill

Progestin-only pills can be started at any time. Another method of birth control should be used for the 48 hours following your first dose.

IUDs (Intrauterine Devices)

Kyleena and Mirena, the two hormonal IUDs currently available in Canada, are 98.5% and 99.6% effective in preventing pregnancy, respectively.  Paragard is a hormone-free copper IUD that is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.

Hormonal IUDs

Hormonal IUDs are effective immediately only if they are inserted within seven days following the start of your menstrual period. If the IUD is not inserted during this timeframe, another method of protection is required for the seven days following its insertion.

Non-Hormonal IUD

The copper IUD is effective immediately, regardless of when insertion takes place.

Depo Provera (Depo Shot)

Depo Provera, also known as Depo Shot, is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy when shots are received on schedule (every 12 weeks.)

When given within the five days of the start of your menstrual period, Depo Shot is immediately effective in preventing pregnancy. If the shot is not administered within the first five days of the beginning of your menstrual period, another method of birth control is needed for the seven days following the injection.

NuvaRing

The birth control ring, also known as NuvaRing, is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy if used exactly as directed. With typical use, NuvaRing is 91% effective.

NuvaRing is effective in preventing pregnancy immediately if inserted within the first five days of your menstrual period. If the ring is not inserted during five days of your menstrual period, another method of birth control is required for seven days following insertion.

If your NuvaRing falls out, it should be rinsed in cold or warm water and reinserted within three hours. If the ring is reinserted within three hours, no other action is required.  If the ring cannot be inserted within three hours, it needs to be reinserted at your earliest opportunity. In such cases, another method of birth control will be required for the seven days following the reinsertion.

Birth Control Patch

The birth control patch is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy if used correctly. With typical use, the patch is 91% effective.

If the patch is applied within the first five days of your menstrual period, a backup method of birth control is not required. If the patch is applied at any other time during the month, another reliable type of birth control will be required for seven days following the application.

If the patch falls off, it should be reapplied within two days. You can choose to use the same patch, or you can replace it with a new one. You can then continue with your regular patch-change cycle. If the patch is reapplied within two days, you are still protected against pregnancy. If the patch falls off and more than two days have passed, a new patch will need to be applied, and a new cycle started. Another method of birth control will be required for the next seven days.

When used as directed, most methods of birth control work as intended. However, it is important to ensure that your chosen method is used as directed to ensure that you are protected. To ensure that you are always covered, having a backup method of birth control like a condom is highly recommended.

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