How to Start Oral Contraceptives


Oral contraceptives commonly called “birth control pills” or even known as just “the pill” are an extremely convenient and effective form of birth control. In addition to preventing pregnancy, they also have the ability to help regulate your monthly periods, as well as other benefits.

Typically, there are three weeks of active pills in each pill pack followed by a week of inactive pills. Some women take their pills every single day while others choose to skip the week of inactive pills. It is important to know that some newer brands do have active pills in the final row, so before you decide to skip the final row of pills, you should check with your healthcare provider to make sure this is acceptable for the type of prescription you’ve been given. You could risk having abnormal bleeding or an unwanted pregnancy if you miss taking active pills.

When you begin taking oral contraceptives for the first time, there are two main options:

Sunday Start:

You will start your new pill pack on the first Sunday AFTER your period starts. For instance, if your period starts on Wednesday, you will start your new pill pack on Sunday – even if you’re still bleeding.

• Pros: You will eventually avoid having your period on weekends
• Cons: You must use a back-up method of birth control for protection, such as condoms, during the first cycle or pill pack

First Day Start:

You will take your first pill from your new pack on the FIRST day of your menses regardless of the day it starts. (Spotting counts as bleeding!)

• Pros: Immediate birth control effectiveness; less spotting and bleeding during your first pill cycle
• Cons: You may have you period on occasional weekends.

Occasionally, the timing of your period may conflict with important occasions such vacations, weddings, or other special events. Because of the flexibility of oral contraceptives, it is possible to adjust the arrival time of your period.

When an adjustment in timing needs to be made:

• Start your first pill pack with the First Day Start method
• With each following pill pack:
o Move the start day one day forward by ignoring the last pill in the pack and starting the next
o Move the start day backward by skipping one day before starting the next pack. Starting one day late will not affect the effectiveness of the pill pack.
• Repeat this process each new pill pack until you’ve adjusted the timing of your period, as needed.

**It is not only important to remember to take your pills daily, but you should get in the habit of taking them at the same time each day. To help you remember, you can:

 Set a timer or calendar reminder on your smartphone
 Leave the pill pack next to your toothbrush or coffee pot
 Post a reminder on your vanity mirror or refrigerator

Posted in: Gynecology

Request An Appointment

or you can log into your PATIENT PORTAL account

Quick Contact

  • * All indicated fields must be completed.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.