Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Birth Control Health Center

Font Size

How to Take Birth Control Pills - Topic Overview

Birth control pills come in packs. The most common type 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.

Did You Know?

Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will provide free women’s preventive services, including mammograms, birth control and well-woman visits. Learn more.

Health Insurance Center

How to start your first pack of pills

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 do not 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.

Your daily pill routine

Take your hormone pills every day, at about the same time of day. To stay on track and prevent pregnancy, try these easy tricks:1

  • Pick a time. 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 you will start new packs. You might even want to cross off each day you take your pill.
  • Check 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.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: /2, 14 1
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    Next Article:

    How to Take Birth Control Pills Topics

    Today on WebMD

    Here's what to expect.
    man opening condom wrapper
    Do you know the right way to use them?
    birth control pills
    Here's what to do next.
    doctor and patient
    His and her options.
    Concerned teenage girl
    hospital gown
    Birth Control Pills Weight Gain
    Ortho Evra Birth Control Patch
    contraceptive pills
    Young couple looking at each other, serious
    woman reading pregnancy test result