Birth control pills (BCPs) prevent pregnancy by releasing hormones. The hormones keep eggs from being released. Most BCPs have 2 hormones called estrogen and progestin.
1 in 100 women who use BCPs become pregnant each year. Pregnancy often happens because BCPs are not taken the way they should be.
Your doctor will tell you if it is safe for you use BCPs. If so, you will both decide which is the best one for you.
Once you have the BCPs, follow these steps:
Q. Does the pill keep me from getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), like HIV infection?
A. No, a condom is the only type of birth control that can help protect you from STIs.
Q. What do I do if I am taking the pill and find out I’m pregnant?
A. You will need to stop taking the BCPs. Most women do not have problems later in their pregnancy. But, if you take BCPs in the early weeks, it increases the cnance of a miscarriage or other problems.
Q. Do I need to use another type of birth control first?
A. It depends on which BCP you decide to use and when you start taking them:
Q. What should I do if I miss a pill?
A. If you forget 2 or more pills, always use another kind of birth control, such as condoms, for the rest of the month so that you do not get pregnant.
Talk to your doctor about the best time to start taking BCPs.
Call your doctor if you have any of these problems:
You may be taken off the BCPs or switched to a different type to reduce these problems.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Sex and U—The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Women's Health Matters—Women's College Hospital
Birth control methods. Office on Women's Health website. Available at: https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/birth-control-methods. Updated April 24, 2017. Accessed March 5, 2019.
Birth control pill. Planned Parenthood website. Available at: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/birth-control-pill. Accessed March 5, 2019.
Combined hormonal birth control: pill, patch, and ring. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Combined-Hormonal-Birth-Control-Pill-Patch-and-Ring. Updated March 2018. Accessed March 5, 2019.
Oral contraception. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116852/Oral-contraceptives. Updated March 5, 2019. Accessed March 5, 2019.
2/11/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116852/Oral-contraceptives. Dinger J, Minh TD, Buttmann N, Bardenheuer K. Effectiveness of oral contraceptive pills in a large U.S. cohort comparing progestogen and regimen. Obstet Gynecol. 2011;117(1):33-40.
Last reviewed March 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mary-Beth Seymour, RN Last Updated: 3/5/2019