Birth control pills are effective means to avoid pregnancy. They are safe, convenient and have little side effects, which need to be taken as specified. However, if you take them incorrectly, you might have the possibility of pregnancy. If you are not planning to have a baby for some time, starting birth control pills would be advisable, till you plan to start a family. By reading this article you will get a fair idea about when you can start taking the pill and what needs to be done if you miss a pill.

When Do You Start Taking the Pill?

Birth control pills are available in units as a 21 day course or 28 day course.

  • You have to take the tablet daily if you have the 21 day unit. After this no tablet is taken for 7 days. This cycle is then continued.
  • If you are on the 28 day unit, you take the tablet for 21 days in a row, followed by 7 days of placebo tablet. This tablet contains no medication.

When to Start Birth Control Pills

You can start taking the birth control pills in different ways & time. 3 different ways have been given below:

  • Day 1 of periods. In this, you start taking the pill on the first day of the periods and the pill has to be taken every day at the same time. This method is effective in preventing pregnancy immediately and there is no need to use a backup method for protection.
  • Quick start or start today. In this method you need not wait for your periods to begin. You can start taking the pill from today at any time suitable for you. You should then continue to take the pill at the same time every day. In this method, there is a risk of pregnancy for the first few days and backup protection like condoms or abstinence should be followed for 7 days.
  • Start on a Sunday. Start the pills on the first Sunday following your periods or if you get your periods on Sunday, then on the same day. The pill should be taken at the same time every day. For this method you need to take back up protection for at least 7 days.

Tips on Taking Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills need to be taken at the same time every day. The following tips will help you in keeping track and preventing pregnancy:

  • Select your time. Associate your pill taking time to some routine you perform every day, such as brushing your teeth, eating meals or going to bed.
  • Use calendar. Mark the date when you start the medication. Crossing off the day once you take the pill will be helpful.
  • Check the pill dispenser. Check if you have taken the previous day’s pill every day. Take one immediately if you have missed a pill.

Other Things You Need to Know When You Take Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills or oral contraceptives are convenient and reliable, however, there are certain things you should be aware of when taking the pills.

What to Do If You Miss Pills

  • Miss one pill. You should take the pill as soon as you remember and take the pill scheduled for the current day at your usual time. Backup method of birth control should be followed.
  • Miss two pills. Take two pills as soon as you remember and two pills again on the next day. This might result in some spotting and secondary birth control method should be followed till next periods.
  • Miss 3 or more pills. Take 2 pills daily for 3 days and also follow secondary birth control method till next period. Or you can discontinue the pills from the current or incomplete pack of pills. Start a new pack from Sunday, even if you are bleeding during this time. Secondary birth control method needs to be followed when no pill is taken and for 2 weeks from the start of the new pack.

What to Do If You Miss a Period

Missing periods when you have not missed any pills, does not necessarily mean that you are pregnant. A pregnancy test can be done in the clinic. It is common to miss periods when birth control pills are being taken. If you do not get your periods in the last days on the pill or 3 days off the pill, you can determine if you are pregnant by checking your basal body temperature. If it is below 98 °F for 3 consecutive days, you may not be pregnant.

Side Effects

Birth control pills are usually very safe and effective and most women experience little or no side effects. Some side effects that women might experience are:

  • Irregular bleeding during menstruation
  • Nausea, headache, dizziness and breast tenderness
  • Mood swings
  • Blood clots (this is rare in non-smoking women under 35 years of age)

The side effects get better within initial 3 months of taking the pill. If the side effects are severe, the doctor will prescribe a different brand of pill.

Some side effects are positive and welcomed by women like reduced cramping, lighter periods, improved acne etc. It is also known to protect against some forms of breast diseases, anemia, ovarian cysts, ovarian and endometrial cancer. It is prescribed sometimes to women who have menstrual problems.

Avoid Taking Birth Control Pills When You’re Pregnant

Sometimes women continue to take birth control pills without realizing that they are pregnant. No proof has been found that these doses of hormones cause birth defects. But you should discontinue the pills as soon as you realize you are pregnant, just in case.

When to See a Doctor

You should inform your doctor immediately if you experience any of the below symptoms:

  • Severe chest pain or abdominal pain, coughing or shortness of breath
  • Headache (severe), dizziness, weakness or numbness
  • Loss of vision or blurring or speech problems
  • Severe pain in leg especially in the calf or thighs

You should mention that you are taking birth control pills to any other doctor you might visit for other treatment.

Watch the video for more advices on starting birth control pills: