Starting Birth Control Pill: A Complete Guide

starting birth control pill

Thinking of starting to take birth control pills? In this article, we discuss some effective tips on exactly that.


Taking oral contraceptive pills is easy and simple. You need to take a small tablet with water every day as guided by your health practitioner. There are different types of birth control pills, however. And there are different directions as to when to start with these pills.

This is why it is important to firstly understand the kinds of oral contraceptive tablets available, such as the combination pill and the progestin-only aka. mini pill.  The combination pill has progestin and estrogen hormones. These are the most common medications to prevent pregnancy.

You have to take one combination birth control pill every day, and this will protect you from conceiving a child. There is no strict rule that you have to swallow the pill at an exact time every day. However, it will then habituate you as well help remember in taking the medicine, if you do so.

Mini pill or progestin-only pill contains only progestin and not estrogen. You need to take one tablet every day that too at the exact time. At maximum, a delay of 3 hours from the regular time of intake can prevent pregnancy.

Types Of Birth Control Pills

Below-mentioned are some tips on how to use different types of oral contraceptives:

1. Combination Pills

Combination pills come in 28 days, 21 days, and 91 days pack. 

28-day Pack

Take a pill for 28 days, every day in a row. You can start a new pack from the 29th day. The last few tablets in the medication pack do not have hormones in them. Termed as a placebo or reminder pills, these help you remember to take your medicine every day until the start of the next medication pack in time. Now, depending on the brand of the medicine, the number of placebo pills will be present in the pack.

The majority of medicine packs contain 7 reminder pills, while others may have fewer. The placebo pills contain supplements, mostly iron. It is possible to get your periods in the same week of taking the reminder tablets. You will have complete protection against pregnancy even if you do not use the placebo pills. But it is important to start the next pack on the 29th day.

21-day Pack

Take one tablet for 21 days, every day in a row. After this, you do not have to take any tablets for 7 days, and you will get the periods in the 4th week (when not on any birth control pill). It is crucial to swallow a pill every day from this pack, as there are no placebo (hormone-free) tablets in it.

The active (hormone) pills prevent pregnancy and make sure that you do not get pregnant during the medication-free period. You must start with the new medication pack after 7 days of stopping the previous one.

91-day Pack

In this pack, there will be 12 weeks of hormone pills in a row. The pack will also contain placebo pills up to a week, which you need to take after finishing up with the dose of the active pills. The hormones in the active tablets will protect you against getting pregnant even when the reminder pills continue.

This type of birth control pack will give you a fewer number of periods throughout the year and prevent pregnancy accordingly.

2. Progestin-only Pills (Mini Pills)

The progestin-only birth control pills come in a pack of 28-days. All the 28 pills are active ones, containing hormones. There are no placebo pills. You can get your menses in the fourth week from starting the medication pack.

You may even bleed on and off (spotting) in the entire course, or get no periods at all. You have to take the mini-pill at the same time every day. A delay of 3 hours from the time of medication consumption may still protect you from getting pregnant.

For instance, if you use the progestin-only pill at 10:00 AM then you have to take the next pill at the same time, the next day. Or you can take the next pill the day after today, at up to 1:00 PM. A delay of more than 3 hours may put you at a higher risk of conceiving a child. You can use reminders, alarms, or ask someone to remind you about taking the medicine on time.

Starting Birth Control Pills

You can begin with oral contraceptive medicine pack anytime and any day of the week during your periods. You will stay protected from pregnancy on contraceptive pills, but the time frame of the same will depend on how soon or when you start with the tablets. You may have to use a backup barrier birth control method such as a condom for up to seven days.

  • Combination Pills:  You can start with these medicines at any time. If you begin these within the first 5 days after you start with menstruation, then you can prevent pregnancy right away. For instance, if you get menses on a Sunday morning, you can begin with the medication pack anytime until Friday morning. If you start with the tablets at any other time, then you will have to use condoms during the first 7 days of taking the pills.

  • Progestin-only Pills (Mini Pills): You can start with mini pills anytime. You will stay protected from getting pregnant after 2 days (48 hours) on the medication. If you have intercourse in these 48 hours, then you must use another form of barrier birth control method, such as a condom. It is important that you take the tablet at the same time every day. In case you delay taking a pill 3 hours past the usual time of intake, then a condom can be used for the next 48 hours to ensure protection against pregnancy.
  • Taking Oral Contraceptive Pill After Pregnancy: If you do not want to get pregnant soon after birthing a child, then speak with your doctor. To prevent pregnancy, you can start with progestin-only pill after childbirth, miscarriage, or abortion. You can start a pack of combination birth control pills right after a miscarriage or an abortion. Also, after 3 weeks of giving birth, you can begin with the combination pill pack, whether breastfeeding or not.

Can Birth Control Pills Stop Periods?

You can take the oral contraceptive pills as per the suggestion of the doctor, to stop periods. Use a brand of tablets that have 12 weeks of active pills in a row, so that there are no more than 4 periods in a year. You can even remind pills in the medication pack and start with the new pack.

Doing so every month or whenever you want, can help skip your menstrual cycle. There could be some spots when you utilize the medicines to skip your period. If you skip the placebo-pill week every month, and the breakthrough bleeding will go away after 6 months or so. You must take the advice from a doctor before considering skipping periods with oral contraceptive pills.

Starting Birth Control Pills: Wrapping Up

The above-given post talks about birth control pills, how to use those, and when to start with the medication course. Follow the suggestion of your doctor to understand which type of oral contraceptive pill pack is suitable for your need and health. If you have a medical history or taking any medicine, inform your healthcare provider about the same to get appropriate guidance for preventing pregnancy.