How effective are birth control pills?

Birth control is a way for men and women to prevent pregnancy. There are many different methods of birth control, including hormonal contraception such as "the pill." Women take the pill by mouth to prevent pregnancy, and, when taken correctly, it is up to 99.9% effective.
A.

How long does it take for birth control to get in your system?

It depends on when you start taking them. You can take your first birth control pill any day of the month, but you may need a backup birth control method (like condoms) for the first 7 days. If you start combination pills within 5 days after your period starts, you'll be protected from pregnancy right away.
  • Are you protected on the 7 day break from the pill?

    Whether you take placebo pills or simply wait 7 days to start the next pack, the 7-day break from hormones triggers monthly bleeding that mimics a woman's menstrual period. Women are still protected from pregnancy during this time as long as they have taken all the active pills consistently and correctly.
  • Can you get pregnant while on the pill?

    No contraceptive is utterly foolproof and the pill is no different. However – provided it is taken correctly – the pill is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. This means that fewer than one woman in 100 who use the pill as contraception will get pregnant in one year.
  • What are the side effects of birth control pills?

    We will look at each of these side effects in detail below.
    • Intermenstrual spotting. Breakthrough vaginal bleeding is common between expected periods.
    • Nausea.
    • Breast tenderness.
    • Headaches and migraine.
    • Weight gain.
    • Mood changes.
    • Missed periods.
    • Decreased libido.
B.

Is the pill still effective on your week off?

Yes. When you're on the pill, it's okay to have sex anytime, even during your period week — the week when you don't take the pill or take placebo pills instead. As long as you've been taking the pill correctly and consistently, you're protected from pregnancy even during that off week.
  • Do you still ovulate while on the pill?

    Birth control pills are designed to prevent ovulation, and, on the off chance that you do ovulate while on the pill, it works with two other back up methods to prevent pregnancy. That's why the pill is so good at preventing pregnancy — in fact, it's more than 99 percent effective when used perfectly.
  • Are you still protected on the 7 day break?

    For the 21 day pill, the hormones that are preventing you from getting pregnant in the pills will still be in effect and protect you during your 7 day break where you should then get a "withdrawal bleed" (it will look a bit like a period). You are protected the whole month, even during the break.
  • Can you get pregnant on the pill during the 7 days off?

    Whether you take placebo pills or simply wait 7 days to start the next pack, the 7-day break from hormones triggers monthly bleeding that mimics a woman's menstrual period. Women are still protected from pregnancy during this time as long as they have taken all the active pills consistently and correctly.
C.

Do expired birth control pills still work?

The expiration date on any medication helps determine whether the product is safe and effective. At this point, manufacturers can no longer guarantee that the drug isn't deteriorating. Because of this, taking expired birth control pills may result in an unwanted pregnancy.
  • How long does it take for birth control pills to be effective?

    It depends on when you start taking them. You can take your first birth control pill any day of the month, but you may need a backup birth control method (like condoms) for the first 7 days. If you start combination pills within 5 days after your period starts, you'll be protected from pregnancy right away.
  • Do morning after pills work?

    How does the plan B® morning-after pill work? plan B® comes in a one-pill dose. If taken within 72 hours (3 days) and preferably within 12 hours after a contraceptive accident or unprotected sex, it can prevent pregnancy by doing one of three things: Temporarily stops the release of an egg from the ovary.
  • What is the shelf life of the Plan B pill?

    But it has a pretty long shelf life — they said yesterday up to four years — so you may want to stock one in case of emergency. Also, using a Plan B toothbrush the morning after will not prevent pregnancy.

Updated: 23rd October 2018

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