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Birth Control Pills - Frequently Asked Questions

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Birth Control Pills - Frequently Asked Questions

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Birth control pill is a hormonal conception method used by women to prevent pregnancy. These pills are taken orally and are 99.9 % effective.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Richa Agarwal

Published At April 30, 2019
Reviewed AtJanuary 29, 2024


Birth control pill is a hormonal conception method used by women to prevent pregnancy. These pills are taken orally and are 99.9 % effective. There are a number of birth control pills, and choosing the right one for you can be daunting. Here I have tried to answer the most commonly asked questions that may arise in your mind if you are trying to decide which birth control pill you want to try.

What Are the Types of Birth Control Pills?

The two main types of birth control pills are:

  1. Combination Pills - Contains both estrogen and progesterone. It is the most effective type.

  2. Mini-pill or Progestin-Only Pills - Contains only low doses of progesterone. As it does not contain estrogen, it is slightly less effective.

How Do Birth Control Pills Work?

These hormonal pills prevent pregnancy by the following three ways:

  1. By preventing ovulation, that is the process by which an egg is released by the ovaries during a woman’s menstrual cycle.

  2. By thickening the mucus that surrounds the cervix, making it difficult for the sperm to reach and fertilize the released egg.

  3. By altering the uterine lining (lining of the uterus), making it difficult for the fertilized egg to get implanted.

What Are the Major Brands of Birth Control Pill?

Combination Pills:

  • Yasmin.
  • Yaz.

  • Levora.

  • Estarylla.

  • Aranelle.

  • Loryna.

  • Cryselle.

  • Kariva.

  • Lutera.

  • Tri-sprintec.


  • Nora-BE.

  • Nor-QD.

  • Camila.

  • Errin.

  • Jolivette.

How to Use Birth Control Pills?

Combination pills:

One pill has to be taken every day. It is not necessary to take it at the exact same time every day, but if you do, you will form a habit and never miss a pill. The combination pills are available in 28-day, 21-day, and 91-day packs.

  • 21-day pack - This pack has only 21 hormone tablets and no hormone-free pills. Take 1 pill every day for 21 days and do not take any pill for 7 days. Start a new packet on the 29th day, even if you are on your period. You will get your periods on the second or third day after the last pill.

  • 28-day pack - This pack has 21 hormone tablets and 7 hormone-free pills. Take 1 pill every day for 28 days, and start the new pack on the 29th day, even if you are on your period. You will get your periods on the second or third hormone-free pill day.

  • 91-day pack - This pack has 84 hormone tablets and 7 hormone-free pills. You have to take 1 pill every day for 3 months. You will get periods only once in three months, on the second or third hormone-free pill day.


Mini-pills come only in 28-day packs. Take 1 pill within the same 3 hours every day. All the 28 pills contain progestin, and there is no hormone-free pill. You might get your periods on the 4th week of taking this pill. Start the new pack on the 29th day.

What to Do If I Miss a Pill?

Birth control pills are most effective when taken every day on schedule. If you miss 1 pill, take the pill as soon as you remember, and take the next pill on its usual time. If you have missed taking 2 or more pills from the same pack, then read the instruction leaflet for what needs to be done next.

And whenever you miss a pill, use other birth control methods like a condom for 7 days, as there are chances that you might get pregnant. If you vomit within 2 - 3 hours of taking a pill, it has to be considered as a missed pill. Consult your doctor to know if you should take another pill or on what needs to be done.

When Is the Best Time to Start Taking Birth Control Pills for the First Time?

You can start taking the pill as soon as your doctor prescribes them.But it is more effective when started at a particular time in your menstrual cycle. Always use a condom or other birth control method for the first week. Depending on the type of pill you choose, the best time to start taking them are:

  • Combination Pills - Start taking these pills on the day you get periods or within the next 5 days, as it will prevent pregnancy right away.

  • Mini-pill - You can start taking this at any time, but it will be effective only after 48 hours. So for the first two days, use alternate birth control methods.

When Can I Start Taking Birth Control Pills After Pregnancy?

Breastfeeding naturally prevents the mother to get pregnant again for some months, but this is not always true. You can still get pregnant shortly after delivery. Birth control pills are generally started 3 weeks after giving birth, but always consult your gynecologist as you will be breastfeeding at the time.

Some amount of hormone gets into breast milk, but it has shown no side effect on the baby.

What Are the Side Effects While Taking Birth Control Pills?

Some of the common side effects while taking OCP are:

To Get Pregnant, How to Stop Birth Control Pills?

If you are on the pill and have decided to conceive, you can stop taking the pill after the pack gets over. It is possible to get pregnant as soon as you stop taking medicine. But for some people, it might take a few months. Your periods might take some time to go back to normal, but even during that time, you can get pregnant.

Do Birth Control Pills Protect Against Sexually Transmitted Diseases?

No, birth control pills do not protect against STDs. To reduce the risk of STDs like HIV and syphilis, always practice safe sex.

Birth control pill is one of the most effective and safest ways to prevent pregnancy. Start taking it only after consulting your gynecologist. You can consult gynecologists online, who will help you choose the best birth control method depending on your condition.


Oral contraceptives, usually referred to as birth control tablets, are drugs used to prevent pregnancy. In order to stop ovulation, they include hormones that control a woman's reproductive system. It's crucial to have a full conversation with a healthcare professional before beginning any kind of birth control to establish the best option for your unique circumstances and medical background. They can offer you customized guidance and take care of any worries you might have.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Should One Know About Birth Control Pills?

People should be aware that birth control pills help to prevent unwanted pregnancies and are an effective contraceptive method when used consistently without missing a dose every day (99 percent effective). These pills contain a combination of hormones that control a woman's menstruation. These can also help lower the risk of certain cancers in women, such as uterine and ovarian cancers. The pills also help to improve acne and a condition called endometriosis.


Are There Any Restrictions While on the Pill?

While on birth control pills, certain things may make the pills less effective and have to be avoided. These include:
- Taking medications such as certain antifungals and antibiotics (Rifampin).
- Certain home remedies.
- Taking the pill at random times.
- Forgetting to take the pill every day.
It is always best to abstain from these restrictions on fertile days.


When Should Birth Control Pills Be Avoided?

Birth control pills must not be used in certain medical conditions. Birth control pills are to be avoided if the women have the following:
- A history of blood clots.
- History of heart problems such as a heart attack or coronary artery disease.
- History of stroke.
- Cancer.
- Jaundice or liver disease.
- Diabetes.
- Lupus.
- Migraines (with aura).
- Suspected or known pregnancy or vaginal bleeding.
- High blood pressure with a smoking habit.
- Women above the age of 35 with a smoking habit.


Does the Order of Taking the Birth Control Pills Matter?

The order of the pills is very important if a person is taking the 28-day pack of birth control pills. The 28-day packs contain up to seven inactive pills (without the hormones). Thus, if an inactive pill is taken, it is similar to missing a dose and can lead to unwanted pregnancies or can lead to breakthrough bleeding. In 21-day packs, all the pills contain hormones; thus, the order does not affect the pill's efficiency.


What Is Considered a Missed Pill?

A birth control pill is considered missed if the women do not take it for 24 hours or more after they are supposed to take the pill. An hour or more is generally not considered a missed pill. As combination pills contain progestin and estrogen hormones, they can ensure protection against pregnancy as long as one pill is taken daily. It is essential to take the pill once they remember missing the pill.


How to Know if the Birth Control Pills Work?

Birth control pills are effective (99 percent) if taken consistently daily without missing a day. Combination pills may take up to seven days to be effective. Progestin-only birth control pills take two days after the first pill to be effective. If a person is taking the pills to regularize their periods or for other reasons such as acne, their body needs time to adjust to the pills. Changes can be seen in a few months, such as less acne, clear skin, less pain, and regular periods.


Can Birth Control Pills Be Taken an Hour Late?

Being one hour late will not make much difference if a person is taking a combination of birth control pills. As the pills contain progestin and estrogen, they are effective if taken once a day. However, if a person is taking progestin-only birth control pills, it is important to take the pills at the same time daily. If a person on progestin-only pills forgets to take the pills by three hours, its effectiveness falls. Thus, in such cases, an alternate birth control method has to be used.


Can We Consume Alcohol While on Birth Control Pills?

Yes, women can consume alcohol while on birth control pills. Alcohol intake does not directly impact the pill's effectiveness. However, a person is more prone to miss a pill or take the pill at a random time under the influence of alcohol. In addition, alcohol can affect a person's judgment, leading to risky sexual behavior.


Which Is the Safest Birth Control Pill to Take?

Birth control pills are of two types - combination pills (that contain a combination of hormones) and progestin-only pills. The hormone progesterone and estrogen work to control the body's hormone levels, preventing pregnancy. Usually, low-dose pills (both combination or progestin-only) or mini-pills are considered the safest birth control pills as they do not cause blood clots (lowest-risk).


What Is the Correct Way to Take a Birth Control Pill?

Generally, the first birth control pill has to be taken on the first day of the period. Sunday start or quick start pills are also available. After that, one pill has to be taken each day, at the same time. It is essential not to miss a dose, as these can result in pregnancies or bleeding. Also, if a person is taking the 28-day pills, they should not mix up the order of the pills. If an inactive pill is taken out of order, the protection against pregnancy is lost.


Is There a Chance of Pregnancy if One Pill Is Missed?

Yes, there is a chance of pregnancy if a person misses one pill. The pregnancy chance is higher if a person uses progestin-only pills than if the person is using combination pills. Combination pills prevent ovulation by maintaining hormone levels and providing continuous protection. Thus missing a dose is not much of a problem. However, if a person has missed a dose of progestin-only pills, they must use an alternate birth control method to be safe.


Is It Possible to Change the Time of Taking Birth Control Pills?

Yes, it is possible to change the time of taking the prescribed birth control pills. A smooth and safe transition is the key. It is safest if a person changes the timing once they finish a pack, take a break, and take the next set of pills at the desired time. Changing to a new time is safe when the total number of hours (from the last pill taken) does not exceed the time window recommended.
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Dr. Richa Agarwal
Dr. Richa Agarwal

Obstetrics and Gynecology


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