TAKING THE BIRTH CONTROL PILL: What you need to know

How effective is the pill?

If you take your birth control pills exactly as directed, and don’t skip any pills, the pill is over 99% effective.

How do I start taking the pill?

The easiest way to start your birth control pill is to begin on the Sunday after you start your next period. This means if you start your period on Mon-Sat, you start taking a new pill pack on Sunday. If you start your next period on Sunday, start the pill pack that day.
You will want to use a back up form of birth control for the first month you are on the pill. This means abstinence or condoms and foam in most cases.

When do I take my pill?

It is best to take your pill at the same time every day. It is often easiest to pick some activity that you do every day, such as brushing your teeth, and place your pill pack right beside your toothbrush. You can take the pill in the morning or at night, but just be consistent.

What if I miss a pill?

If you miss one pill, just take it as soon as you remember. And then take that days pill as you normally would. Then take the remainder of your pill pack as usual. You do not need to use a back up form of birth control.

If you miss two pills, take 2 pills on the day you remember, and then 2 pills the next day. After this, go back to your regular routine. You must use a backup form of birth control, such as condoms and foam, for 7 days after you miss pills.

If you miss three or more pills, throw out your pill pack. You will start a period in the next few days, and then start a new pill pack on the first Sunday after you start your period. (Just as described above). You must use an alternate form of birth control until you start your new pill pack.

What are the side effects of the pill?

Some women will notice some nausea, some breast tenderness or even some light spotting during the first few months they are on the pill. Your body will adjust to these new changes, but it may take up to three months. It is important that you give your body a chance to adjust to the hormone levels. If you do experience nausea, it sometimes helps to take your pill at night or with a small snack.

It is important to call your health care provider if you experience any of the following while on the pill:

Abdominal pain
Chest pain, shortness of breath or coughing up blood
Headaches that are severe and throbbing, dizziness, weakness and numbness
Eye, sudden blurred or double vision, blindness or sudden speech problems
Swelling or severe pain in lower legs

Others: prolonged depression, yellowing of the skin or eyes or a breast lump.