Birth control pills like Alesse, Yasmine, Desogen are considered the most reliable means of preventing pregnancy. But they will be very effective only if you choose them correctly and know how to take birth control pills. Failure to comply with certain rules make the use of this contraceptive useless.
Things to do before taking birth control pills
- Before you start taking birth control pills, be sure to read the instructions for use. If something confuses you, consult a doctor – so you will know exactly how to act. Make sure that you always have an extra pack of pills at home so that you do not have problems when you run out of pills suddenly – the pharmacy may be closed or the necessary pills will not be available;
- You should also buy condoms to use them as an extra contraceptive – you will need when you take the first pill or if you suddenly forget to take the pill. You should also use condoms if there is even the slightest risk of sexually transmitted infections.
How to take birth control pills?
Now let’s talk about how to take birth control pills. There are packages containing 21 tablets (all active) and packages containing 28 tablets (21 active tablets and 7 inert tablets, which are taken in order to keep you in the habit of taking tablets every day).
- If you have a pack with 28 pills, then you need to take one active pill daily for 21 days, then take the remaining 7 tablets (they have a different color). After you have finished all the pills, you need to start a new packaging immediately;
- If you have a pack with 21 tablets, you need to take them for 21 days, then make a break for seven days. In this case, you need to strictly monitor when you need to start a new package because delaying the start of taking the contraceptives threatens you to get pregnant;
- It is important not to miss taking active pills. Even if you do not often have sexual intercourse, you still have to take tablets daily. Otherwise, you will not provide yourself with reliable protection against unwanted pregnancies and you can become pregnant during any sex;
- Continue to take pills even if you notice bleeding while taking active pills. This phenomenon is called breakthrough bleeding and this is one of the most common side effects of birth control pills. But if such bleeding is too intense or does not stop for several months, you need to be examined by a gynecologist – you may have to change pills;
- Try to take pills at about one time every day. Thus, you will reduce the likelihood that you will miss taking the next pill, as well as it will help reduce the intensity of breakthrough bleeding. The easiest way to remind yourself of taking a pill is to keep the contraceptive in close proximity to a toothbrush and take a pill in the morning when you brush your teeth;
- It is very important to start the next package on time, even if you have not yet completed menstrual bleeding. If you do not start taking new pills 7 days after taking the last active pill from the old package, you will have to use additional contraception for the next seven days;
- By the way, if you are going on vacation or simply do not want to start your next menstruation, you can start the next package immediately after taking the last active pill from the previous package. Thus, the level of hormones does not change, respectively, menstruation does not start. But note that you should not abuse this way of influencing the menstrual period, otherwise the medication could harm your health.
How to start taking birth control pills?
You may need to start taking the drug on a specific day of the period or at a specific time — it depends on the specific type of oral contraceptives you have been prescribed. Be sure to ask your doctor when to take the first pill of the drug. We give the following recommendations that are based on certain general principles:
- You can start taking combined oral contraceptives on the first day of the menstrual period (the first day of your menstrual bleeding);
- You can also start taking tablets on the first Monday after the onset of your menstruation;
- After childbirth (without cesarean section), you must wait three weeks before you begin taking pills, provided that you are not breastfeeding;
- If you are susceptible to thrombosis or are breastfeeding, at least six weeks must pass after delivery before you can start taking the medication;
- Combined contraceptives can be taken immediately after a miscarriage or abortion;
- Remember on which day of the week you took the first pill and always start taking the first pill from a new package on the same day;
- You can start taking mini-pills (one-component progestin-only contraceptives) at any time. If you plan to have sex within 48 hours after taking the first the mini-pill, resort to additional contraception;
- You should take a mini-pill at the same time every day. Choose the most suitable time, for example, when you wake up in the morning or before going to bed;
- Single-component progestin-only contraceptives can be taken immediately after a miscarriage or abortion.
If you forgot to take a birth control pill
Always try to take pills on time. If you missed another dose for some reason, you need to compensate for this. If you forget to take a pill, take it as soon as you remember, take the pill the next day at your usual time.
There are special instructions for some types of combined contraceptives (especially multiphasic drugs) that should be followed if you missed a pill.
- There is a general rule for most birth control pills: if you miss a pill, you need to take two pills the next day;
- If you missed two doses, take two pills the day you remembered it, and two more pills the next day;
- If you forget to take a pill on any day of the cycle, you need to use an additional method of contraception (for example, condoms) until you have finished packing the contraceptive;
- If you forget to take a pill during the first week and you had unprotected sex, you may have to resort to emergency contraception;
- If you are taking single-component progestin-only contraceptives, you need to take a pill at a specific time, the same on all days of the cycle. Even a few hours of delay can turn into an unexpected pregnancy;
- If you forgot to take a pill and do not know how to compensate for the missed dose correctly, or if you doubt whether you should use emergency contraception, consult a gynecologist. Tell in detail what exactly happened (how many pills you missed, on which days of the cycle it happened and so on).
The necessary actions depend on exactly what contraceptives you take, so you’d better consult a specialist.
If you have vomiting/diarrhea
Use other methods of contraception, if you have vomiting and diarrhea (in this case, the pill does not have time to be completely absorbed in the digestive tract, which reduces the reliability of protection against pregnancy).
If a woman has vomiting or diarrhea within 4 hours after taking a birth control pill, the effectiveness of the drug decreases. In this case, you must resort to an additional method of contraception, just as in the case of a missed pill.
If you suffer from an eating disorder, vomiting, or taking laxatives, oral contraception will be ineffective for you. In this case, think about other methods of preventing pregnancy.
To get help, contact a therapist or another health professional.
Other important aspects
- Pay attention to the possible negative reactions of the body to the components of contraceptives. Stop taking the drug if you have pain in the chest or abdomen, your skin has turned yellow, you feel severe pain in your legs, a headache, or problems with your eyesight. Be especially attentive to your well-being if you smoke. You’d better get rid of this habit when taking birth control pills. Smoking significantly increases the risk of serious side effects of contraceptives, including the likelihood of blood clots.
- Take care of contraceptives in advance. Oral contraceptives do not belong to prescription drugs, so you can buy them online without a prescription. And you don’t have to go to a doctor every time you need another package. Nevertheless, you’d better take care of contraceptives in advance and buy the packaging before you run out of the tablets. You do not want to find out late in the evening that you have no more pills and all the pharmacies in your neighborhood are already closed.
These are the main aspects you need to know about how to take birth control pills. In conclusion, we want to remind: if you or your sexual partner takes narcotic drugs or has sex with someone else, then you need to make sure that your partner uses a condom (no matter which one is male or female) every time you have sex. The pills will not protect you from HIV infection, gonorrhea, chlamydia, or any other sexually transmitted disease!