Sex Advice

Dear Dr. Locker: At what stage of the month does one take contraceptive pills for controlling pregnancy?

Answer from Dr. Locker

Birth control pills must be taken every day – all month, all year – in order to prevent pregnancy. You do not take them at one “stage” or another. You must take one pill at the same time every day, no matter what.

Consistency is the most important thing when it comes to taking birth control pills. If you miss more than one pill you must use a back up method (like condoms or a diaphragm) for the rest of that month, or you can get pregnant. Also, when you first start taking the pill, you must wait at least one full monthly cycle for the pills to work (sometimes longer, depending on the type of pill). When a doctor prescribes birth control pills to you, he or she will explain more details involved with the specific type of pill you are given. The best thing about birth control pills is that they are 99% effective against pregnancy. Yet, they do not prevent sexually transmitted diseases, so you should still use condoms for safety.

With your question about what “stage” someone needs to take the pill, maybe you were thinking about: Emergency Contraception (sometimes called “the morning after pill”). Emergency Contraception is actually a pill or several pills that are taken only within the first five days (120 hours) after unprotected intercourse (preferably the first three days). It is to be used when you had not been protected and are worry that you might be pregnant; yet, it is not meant to be used a regular method of birth control. It can have some difficult side effects (nausea, bleeding), but it is effective against pregnancy if needed.

For more information, call Planned Parenthood: 1-800-230-PLAN (1-800-230-7526) to find out where they are located near you, and how you can get more help.


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