The How-To Guide | Taking Birth Control Pills


Hello gorgeous! Are you just starting birth control? Confused by your new pill pack? We feel you. If this is your first time at the birth control rodeo, you should know that taking your birth control correctly is of the utmost importance. Have questions? Don’t worry, we’ll answer.

First, which kind of Pill should I take?

When it comes to birth control pills, you have options:

  • Combination pills. Combination pills contain both estrogen and progesterone and come in two types: monophasic and multiphasic. (Are you writing this down?) Monophasic pills contain the same amount of estrogen and progesterone across the board while multiphasic vary the amount of hormones in certain phases. Combination pills can come in “low-dose” pills, as well, so if you’re sensitive to hormones, especially estrogen, low-dose may be your best bet.
  • Progestin-only pills. Progestin-only pills, also known as minipills, don’t contain estrogen like their combination counterparts. MiniPills have fewer benefits than combination pills, but also have fewer risks.

Okay, so I’ve chosen a Pill, when can I start my Pill pack?

You can begin taking your birth control any day of the month. BUT!

There are some things to be aware of before you choose D-Day and it all depends on what type of birth control you are taking.

  • When to start combination pills. Though you can technically start your combination pill at any time, any day, you may want to be a bit more strategic about it. The day you start your pill pack can affect when the pregnancy prevention starts. If you start your combination pill within five days of the start of your period, you’ll be protected right away, but if you start the pill at any other time, you’ll have to wait seven days before the pill truly takes effect. The choice is yours.
  • When to start progestin-only pills. You can start progestin-only pills whenever you please. These pills start working 48 hours (two days) after you first take them. So, if you want to get down within that 48-hour period, it’s best to use a backup birth control method.

How do I take the Pill?

Like any other med, always take birth control pills as directed by your doc. The most common pill pack comes with 21 days of active pills and 7 days of inactive pills aka placebo pills. (You’ll be able to tell them apart–they’re a different color than the rest.) Take the pill daily by mouth, and follow the pack from the active pills through the placebos. Pretty easy, right? Many packs include the days of the week at the top so you can keep better track of when you’ve taken the pill and prevent what could become some hectic confusion.

When should I take it?

For birth control to work its magic, you need to take your pill at the same time every day. You can take your pill in the morning or at night, but whatever you choose, STICK TO IT. (If you’re feeling nauseous after taking the pill, consider taking it before bedtime to avoid those icky tummy aches.)

For example, if you use the minipill, you MUST take your pill within three hours of the same time everyday. If you don’t, you will need to use a backup method of birth control. Remember ladies, the time of day you take the pill matters!

How can I remember to take the Pill?

A lot of women choose to take their pill at night because it fits into their bedtime routines, so, putting your pill by your toothbrush is not a bad idea. Or set a reminder on your phone. When you feel that buzz, you’ll know it’s time for your BCP.

What happens if I miss a Pill?

In an ideal world, you will never miss a pill. But in the real world, let’s face it, it’s gonna happen. (We’re mere mortals after all.) When you skip a pill, you put yourself at risk for pregnancy, period. Not fun. And if you’re taking progestin-only pills, even three hours can make all the difference. If you accidentally miss a day, don’t panic! Here’s what to do:

  • If you miss one pill. If you skip one pill, take it as soon as you remember, even if it’s not until the next day–doubling up is not a problem. If this happens, you should use backup birth control, especially if you’re taking progestin-only pills. After you take your missed pill, you can return to your normal routine.
  • If you miss two pills. If you miss two of your active pills in a row, take 2 pills the day you remember and 2 pills the next day. Again, you can double up on pills, but it’s best not to take more than two in a day.

If you miss multiple pills, you’re going to have to use another birth control method until you’ve taken active pills for seven days in a row. If you’ve had unprotected sex beforeyou’ve realized you skipped your pills, emergency contraception is an option.

Can I still get pregnant if I’ve just started my Pill pack?
Yep. Again, it’s all about when you start taking your birth control. If you start your pill pack on the first day of your period, you’ll be protected from pregnancy immediately. If you start on any other day, pregnancy is a real possibility, and you should definitely use another form of birth control until you’ve reached the 7-day mark.

When will I start my period?

Aunt Flo’s first arrival is entirely dependent on the type of pill you take:

  • Combination Pill. If you’re taking a 28-day pack of combination pills, your period should start during the final week when you reach the placebo pills. If it doesn’t come right away, don’t freak out: your body is still adjusting to the new hormones. And, yes, you will still be protected from pregnancy when on your period.
  • Progestin-only Pill. Depending on the kind of minipill you take, your period may be longer or shorter than usual. Because of the way progesterone interacts with your body, your periods may be irregular when you first start the pill. Menstrual cycle abnormalities should cease after a few months.

What else do I need to know?

There are a few things to keep in mind when starting the pill:

  • STIs. Birth control pills don’t protect you from dreaded sexually transmitted infections. If you’re having sex with a new partner or are unaware of someone’s STI status, use a condom. Please.
  • Expired Pills. Remember to check the expiration dates of your pill pack. Wouldn’t it be a bummer if you were taking ineffective pills? Don’t let that happen!
  • Refills. You never want to accidentally run out of pills, so schedule an appointment to renew your prescription before you actually need. That way you’ll never be without.

I don’t think I like my birth control, what do I do?

If you don’t like your Pill or if it’s seriously disagreeing with you, you can always switch–you’re not married to your birth control! Try a different brand if you’re bothered by the side effects of your particular pill. If you just can’t deal, you can always try a copper IUD that releases no hormones and comes with fewer side effects.

I think something is wrong. Help!

If something feels particularly funky, call your doctor ASAP. If you have trouble breathing, severe chest pain, numbness or consistent headaches, seek medical attention right away.

So, now that you know how to take your pill effectively, it’s time to unleash your prowess. And! If side effects are getting in the way of your road to freedom, Top Up Tonic is here to help. Top Up Tonic replenishes your body with the essential nutrients needed to help you feel like yourself again. Want to learn more? Head here for more info.

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