Starting the contraceptive pill

How to start birth control


The contraceptive pill is a convenient and popular way to prevent unwanted pregnancy. It contains hormones similar to the ones your reproductive system produces during the various stages of your menstrual cycle, stopping ovulation so that fertilisation can’t happen. 

Before you start taking the pill, you’ll need to have a consultation with a GP or nurse, usually at a family planning clinic to make sure that the pill is suitable for you to take. This is because hormonal contraception poses a health risk for some women. For example, those with high blood pressure, heart problems, smokers over 35 and women with a history of breast cancer. 

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How do I start the pill?

When you start taking the pill for the first time, you’ll need to time it with the start of your menstrual cycle. You should take the first pill in your pack on day one of your period, choosing a time of the day that’s easy to remember and will be convenient for you to take it, for example, in the morning when you wake up or in the evening. 

In some cases, it is possible to start taking the pill at a different point in your menstrual cycle. However, if you start it after day 5 of your period then you won’t be protected against pregnancy for the first 7 days of taking the pill. Check the instructions that came with your pill to make sure, as some types might not work properly if you don’t start them at the correct time. 


How do I change my contraceptive pill? 

If you are already on the pill and are planning to try a different brand or type, the general advice is to wait until you reach the end of your current pill pack. Then, instead of having your usual 7 day break, start taking the new pill the next day. This means you won’t have a period- or breakthrough bleed- until the following month. 

If you are really fed up with your current pill and don’t want to wait, it is possible to stop taking one and start the next one right away. If you're in the first week of your pill pack, or the 7 day break, then you’ll need to use an additional type of birth control for the next 7 days to make sure you are protected against pregnancy. 


How do I remember to take the pill?

Your pill pack will usually have the days of the week marked on it. So if the first day of your period falls on a Saturday, then you would take one of the pills marked ‘Saturday’ and then follow on from there. This makes it easy to see if you have taken your pill that day or not. Many women set an alarm reminder to ensure they take their pill on time each day. You might want to think about what time of day is going to be the most practical and convenient for you.



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