Question for Betty.

I have a long distance relationship & my boyfriend is coming back this winter break.  The thing is, he comes back when I'm on the last day of my "active" pills, then the next day I'll be starting the "empty" pills.  I know that sperm can hang out in my uterus or cervix for a few days, so should I use a condom that first day even though I'd be on an active pill?  Also, I know that when starting on birth control pills, it takes a while for them to be effective, so I shouldn't have sex until the 7th or 10th day on pills.  Does that rule apply for every month I start the active pills after that week of empty ones?  Or, does my body go right back to it since I've been on the pill for the past 2 months?  If that's the case, would I be able to have intercourse on that first active pill without a condom?

Betty's Answer.

You have great questions, and congratulations on planning ahead.  You have been on ocps (oral contraceptives) for 2 months and so are covered for contraception any day of the month. This includes days when you are taking the "inactive" pills.  Ocps work by preventing ovulation through suppression of hypothalmic and pituitary secretions (due to estrogenic and progestational actions).  They also alter the cervical mucus, making it "hostile" to sperm.  The third action is alteration of the endometrial lining, preventing implantation. 

So, you are covered for contraception whether you are taking "active" or "inactive" pills, if you take them correctly (by not forgetting pills).  Your decision to not use condoms would be based on your risk of sexually transmitted infections, not on contraception effectiveness.

To answer your question on whether you have to use protection the first 7 days of a new pack of pills is no.  You are covered by taking the pills daily.  This is preventing ovulation, changing the cervical mucus and altering the endometrial lining.

If you have any further questions, and these are great questions, please call the Student Health & Counseling Center.

Have a great holiday break.