Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, 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.
1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 03, 2012
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

Birth Control Options
Slideshow
mother and daughter talking
Evaluator
 
Period Questions
Slideshow
Condom Quiz
Quiz
 
Forgot To Take Your Birth Control Pills
Article
pelivic pain slideshow
Slideshow
 
Birth Control Pills Weight Gain
Article
Ortho Evra Birth Control Patch
Article
 
Comparing Birth Control Pill
Article
New Birth Control Pill
Video
 
HPV Vaccine Future
Article
Young couple holding hands
Quiz