How to Take Birth Control Pills

Overview

Birth control pills come in packs. There are several ways you can start taking your first pack of pills. Talk with your doctor about when to start taking your pills.

  • Quick start. During your medical appointment, take your first pill as soon as you get the pack from your doctor. Take the second pill the next day. During the first 7 days of pills, use a backup method of birth control, like a condom or diaphragm.
  • Sunday start. Pick a Sunday to take your first pill, so that you don't have periods on the weekends. During the first 7 days of pills, use a backup method of birth control, like a condom or diaphragm.
  • Fifth-day start. On the fifth day of your menstrual period, take your first pill.

The most common type of pack has 3 weeks of hormone pills. Some packs have sugar pills for the fourth week. During that fourth no-hormone week, you have your menstrual period. After the fourth week (28 days), you start a new pack.

Some birth control pills are packaged so that you take hormone pills continuously for a period of time. With pills packaged in this way, you may not have a monthly period or you may only have a period every couple of months.

Your daily pill routine

Take your birth control pills every day, at about the same time of day. To help yourself remember to take your pills and prevent pregnancy, try these easy tricks.

  • Pick a time to take your pill.

    Link up your "pill time" with something you do every day, like brushing your teeth, eating a meal, or going to bed.

  • Use your calendar.

    Mark the days when you will start new packs. You might even want to cross off each day you take your pill.

  • Check your pack again.

    Each morning, check your pack to be sure you took yesterday's pill. If you find you've missed one, take it right away.

Credits

Current as of: November 22, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine