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.
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
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
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:footnote 1
Pick a time. Link up your “pill time” with
something you do every day, like brushing your teeth, eating a meal, or going
Use your calendar. Mark the days you will start new packs.
You might even want to cross off each day you take your pill.
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.
Nelson A (2007). Combined oral contraceptives. In RA Hatcher et al., eds., Contraceptive Technology, 19th ed., pp. 193-270. New York: Ardent Media.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD – Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerRebecca Sue Uranga, MD – Obstetrics and Gynecology