Drug and Supplements

Birth Control Pills - Frequently Asked Questions

Written by
Dr. Sneha Kannan
and medically reviewed by Dr. Richa Agarwal

Published on Apr 30, 2019 and last reviewed on Oct 03, 2019   -  5 min read



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

Birth Control Pills - Frequently Asked Questions

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:


  • 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:

  • High blood pressure.

  • Blood clots.

  • Stroke.

  • Heart rhythm problems.

  • Rarely, liver tumors.

  • Depression.

  • Gallbladder disease.

  • Nausea.

  • Vomiting.

  • Headache.

  • Breast tenderness.

  • Weight gain.

  • Intermenstrual spotting.

  • Abdominal discomfort.

  • Bloating.

  • Nipple discharge.

  • Increased hair growth.

  • Darkening of facial skin.

  • Reduced libido.

  • Vaginal discharge.

  • Changes in your periods.

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.

Last reviewed at:
03 Oct 2019  -  5 min read




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