This Is How Long It Takes For Birth Control Pills To Start Working

Birth control pills are an effective form of contraception that can help women prevent unwanted pregnancy. Birth control pills work through hormones. A woman swallows a birth control pill, ideally at the same time every day, which stops or reduces ovulation, thickens the mucus in the cervix to prevent sperm from entering, and thins the uterus wall to make it more difficult for an egg to attach, according to Cleveland Clinic.

There are many myths about birth control pills. One common misconception is that there is just one "pill" when, in fact, there are two types of birth control pills, although both use hormones to prevent unwanted pregnancy. The first type is a combination pill that contains both estrogen and progestin, two female sex hormones, according to MedlinePlus. The second type is a pill that only contains progestin, which may be better for certain women, such as those who can't take estrogen (per Cleveland Clinic).

While it may seem like you can start having sex immediately after taking your first birth control pill, it usually takes time for them to start working.

When taken properly, birth control pills are 99% effective

To have the best chance of preventing unwanted pregnancy, it's important to first understand the effectiveness of birth control pills. When used properly, takenĀ at the same time every day without missing a day, the effectiveness of birth control pills is 99%, according to WebMD. However, this is obviously difficult to do. That's why the typical use failure rate of birth control pills is 7%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means that for every 100 women who take birth control pills, seven will have an unintended pregnancy.

If you believe you won't be able to properly use birth control pills, it may be best to look into IUDs which have a less than 1% typical use failure rate and are not pills that you need to remember to take (via CDC). If birth control pills are your preferred form of contraception then combining them with condoms during sex can increase your chances of preventing pregnancy.

Depending on the type of pill, you may need to wait a week to have sex

Birth control pills do not begin to work immediately after taking the first pill. While you can start taking birth control pills on any day of the month, your doctor or physician will discuss the proper time to start taking the pills and how long until they begin working. This will depend on the type of pill you have been given. It's entirely possible that you will need to abstain from vaginal intercourse, or at least use another form of contraception such as a condom, for up to a week, according to Planned Parenthood.

If you have been given a combination birth control pill and start taking them on the first day of your period, unwanted pregnancy will be prevented immediately, usually the same day. However, if you don't take the pill on the first day of your period, the birth control pill will not be fully effective for seven days, according to Healthline. Women who are given progestin-only pills only have to wait two days to have unprotected sex after taking their first pill. Keep in mind, though, that birth control pills will not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.