Birth control pills contain hormones that work to help prevent pregnancy. Your doctor or medical professional may also prescribe the pill to help manage irregular periods, control acne, etc. Whether you’re switching from one oral contraceptive to another, or you’re starting for the first time, a common (and valid) question is: When should I start taking the birth control pill?

 

Starting the Birth Control Pill – The Basics

Naturally, most people would prefer to begin taking their birth control pills as soon as they receive them. In short, it is entirely acceptable to start taking your birth control pills at any point during your cycle. However, starting your first birth control pill in a more strategic fashion can also be beneficial.

 

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When Should I Start the Birth Control Pill?

There are a few different ways that you can consider when deciding when to take your first pill:

The Quick Start Method: For this method, you simply take your first birth control pill on the same day that you get them from the pharmacy. Continue taking your pills every day as directed.  Use another method of birth control (a condom, for example) for the first seven days after starting your pills if you plan on having sexual intercourse.

The Fifth-Day Start Method: For the fifth-day start method, wait until the fifth day of your period before taking your first pill. Waiting until the fifth day will help ensure that you are protected against pregnancy as soon as you start taking your pills.

The Sunday Start Method: Starting your pill on Sunday and continuing to take them every day as directed will help ensure that you do not get your period on weekends. This method is an excellent option for anyone, but especially those who have activities on the weekend and would prefer to be period-free. As with the quick start method, be sure to use another method of birth control for the first seven days after starting your pills if you plan on having sexual intercourse.

 

Starting the Birth Control Pill – The Specifics

There are two types of birth control pills – the combination pill (28 days) and the progestin-only pill (21 days). The combination pill contains both estrogen and progestin. The progestin-only pill, as its name suggests, only contains progestin.  While the above-noted instructions provide a simple guide on when to start the birth control pill, these instructions can be tailored based on the type of pill you will be taking.

 

When Should I Start Taking the Combination Pill?

If you plan on using the combination pill, you will be protected from pregnancy immediately if you start your first pill five days after starting your period. If you plan on taking your first combination pill at any point other than five days after the start of your period, there is a chance that you can get pregnant. To prevent this from happening, it is advised that another method of birth control is used, for at least seven days after taking your first pill if you plan on being sexually active.

 

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When Should I Start Taking the Progestin-Only Pill?

If you plan on using a progestin-only pill, you will be protected from pregnancy within two days of taking your first pill. If you plan on being sexually active within that two day (48 hour timeframe), be sure to use another method of birth control to help prevent pregnancy.

While you may have a preference as to when you start taking your birth control pills, you should discuss your options with your doctor or a  medical professional. There are a number of factors to consider that may dictate when you should start your first course of oral contraceptives.

 

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