In women, the most effective way to avoid unwanted pregnancy is by taking oral contraceptives. Birth control pills – or simply the pill – work by regulating the release of an egg. When the egg is not released, fertilization will not occur. Apart from decreasing the risk of unwanted pregnancies, the pill also minimizes the risk of ovarian cancer, ovarian cysts, and cancer of the lining of the uterus. The pill also regulates the menstrual cycle and treats hormonal breakouts. If you are using the pill for the first time and is unsure how to take this contraceptive, consider these tips how:
Explaining the Packaging
Birth control pills come in packs. The most common birth control pill type comes with 3 weeks’ worth of hormone pills. These packs are the 28-day packs and they do not allow menstruation to occur. The pills are packed to provide hormones continuously for a period of time. This means taking this pill will delay your period.
Birth control pills that allow monthly menstruation are called 21 packs. Some 21 packs come with sugar pills on the fourth week. During the fourth no-hormone week, you will have your menstrual period. After the fourth week, you will start with a new pack again. Essentially, you will start a new pack every 28 days.
Starting the Pill
If you are using the pill after giving birth, start the day or the day after the delivery, miscarriage, or abortion. Otherwise, you should start the Sunday following the beginning of your period. The effects should last after 7 days of continued use.
Take one pill a day until you finished the pack. If you are using a 28-day pack, start with a new one immediately. Never skip any days between packs. If you are using a 21-day pack, stop taking the pills one week then start on the next pack.
Dealing with Spotting
Spotting is common among first-time pill users. During this time, the body is still adjusting to the hormones. If you are experiencing bleeding in between periods or spotting, you have to choose a specific time to take the pill daily. If spotting does not stop on its own after several cycles, ask your doctor for a change in your prescription.
Missing a Dose
It happens to the best of us, missing a day to take the pill. If you failed to take yesterday’s pill, take one as soon as you remember. Then, take today’s pill at the regular time. During this point, the risk of pregnancy is very slim but use a second method of birth control (like a condom) to be on the safe side.
On the other hand, if you missed two days’ worth of pills, take the two pills as soon as you remember and then take another two pills the next day. Missing two days without taking the contraceptive could lead to spotting. Again, use another form of contraception to avoid getting pregnant.
If you missed three or more pills in a row, take two pills a day for three consecutive days. The risk of getting pregnant is high if you missed more than two days of not taking the pill so use another form of contraception to avoid getting pregnant.