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Image of birth controlIt’s a marvel of modern science known by a simple two-word name.  We call it “The Pill” and it’s been providing safe, effective, and convenient protection against unwanted or unplanned pregnancy for six decades. But you need to know more than “take one pill each day” to be sure it’s working.

The two varieties of birth control pills

There are two varieties of birth control pills. The combination pill uses the hormones estrogen and progestin and the mini pill uses only progestin. If you start taking the combination pill within five days of your period the protection is immediate. You should use another form of birth control for 7 to 14 days if you start any other time in your cycle. The mini pill is effective within 48 hours no matter when you take the first one.

Unpleasant side effects from birth control pills

It takes time for your body to get used to the changing hormone levels that occur with birth control pills. Expect to see some unpleasant side effects in the first few months, such as nausea, headaches, breast tenderness, weight changes and irritability. Intermittent spotting and irregular bleeding are common, but consult your doctor if bleeding is excessive or abnormal.

Health benefits from birth control pills

All the side effects of taking the birth control pill aren’t bad. After a few months, you may notice clearer skin, along with more-regular and sometimes shortened periods with milder cramps, lighter bleeding and fewer mood swings.

Timing is important when taking birth control pills

Timing is important when you take your birth control pill each day.  For maximum effectiveness you need to take the pill at the same time of the day. Set an alarm on your phone or keep your pills on the nightstand or near your toothbrush to remind you to take one every day.

What to do if you miss taking a combination birth control pill

If you miss a day with the combination pill you can take it as soon as you remember, even if you take two in one day. If you miss more than one combination pill, take one as soon as you remember, toss the other, and use backup contraception until you’ve taken seven consecutive pills. If you’ve missed two combination pills and had unprotected sex in the last five days, you may want to use emergency contraception.

What to do if you miss taking a mini birth control pill

Should you miss a mini pill, take it as soon as you remember, even if you take two pills in one day and use backup protection for the next two days. Even if you miss just one mini pill, you may want to use emergency contraception if you’ve had unprotected sex in the past five days.

Northline Women's Health Center Locations:

15675 Northline Road

Southgate, MI 48195

(734) 282-3600
(734) 282-3603 - Fax

23050 West Road, Suite 210

Brownstown Twp., MI 48183

(734) 362-7000
(734) 362-7077 - Fax