Question for Betty.

When can you start birth control?  Do I have to wait until my next period?  Can I start at any time?  Also, do I have to take it at the exactly same time everyday?  Or may I take it within the same hour or "around" the same time?

Betty's Answer.

With consultation with your health care provider, you can start the pill on any day of the month.  If you are on combination pills (containing estrogen and progestin) and you start within five days after the start of your period, you are protected against pregnancy after seven days.  If you start at any other time during your menstrual cycle and have not been using birth control, there is a chance that you may be pregnant.  Also, starting at any time other than during your menstrual cycle requires using another method of birth control - like a condom, female condom, diaphragm, or sponge - if you have vaginal intercourse during at a minimum of the first 14 days of use. For maximum effectiveness and  protection, using a back up method is advisable during the first cycle of your pills.  

Many package inserts recommend taking pills on Sunday as an aid to memory, and so that you don't have periods on weekends.  If pills are to be started on a Sunday, take your first tablet on the first Sunday after your menstrual period begins.  If the period begins on a Sunday, take your first tablet that day.

Taking the pill at the same time each day makes it more effective.  Pick a time of day that is easy to remember.  You might find it helpful to take when you brush your teeth or after eating dinner.  Many women set an alarm on their cell phone or watches, as a reminder.

Remember, the pill does not protect you against STIs (sexually transmitted infections).  Be sure to use condoms or female condoms for protection.

Please contact your health care provider or the SHCC if you have any further questions.