The Pill

What kind of pill should I take?

This is a decision for you and your provider.   Pills can have small differences that can affect your mood, cycle, and overall well-being.  If one brand isn’t right, there is probably another!  It sometimes takes some experimenting to find the right one.

Why use it?
  • Some pills improve acne
  • May give you lighter, less painful periods
  • Can give you control over when you have your period
Why not?
  • Sore breasts, nausea, and spotting may occur in the first few months. 
  • May change your sex drive
  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections

How to Take Birth Control Pills

Pills come in 21 and 28 day packages, although the 28 day packs are most popular.  The 21-day pack has all active pills, while the 28-day pack contains 21 active pills and 7 reminder or placebo pills (and is the most common packaging). With the 28-day pack, you will take 1 active pill for 21 days, followed by the 7 reminder pills (during which you will have your period).  Then start the next pack. 

Acyclic Birth Control Pills (Continuous Use)
  • Many women do not want to have a period every month.
  • Several formulations of pills can be taken daily, without a monthly break, to suppress menstruation.
  • You can choose to have a period every 3 months, or not at all.
  • It is not harmful to stop your periods!
  • Ask your provider if you would like to try this method.

Creative Ways to Remember your Birth Control Pills

  • Set an alarm on your phone, or download an app
  • Check it off on a calendar, along with your daily homework assignments 
  • Incorporate it into your daily routine. Take your pill right after brushing your teeth. 
  • Write a reminder on a sticky note and put it on your bathroom mirror. 

 What happens if I miss a pill (or two or three)?

  • If you miss one pill, take it as soon as you remember it, even if it means taking 2 pills in one day.
  • If you miss two pills in a row, take 2 pills per day until you catch up to the correct day. 
  • If you miss 3 pills in a row, call your healthcare provider and ask for instructions. 
  • Anytime you miss a pill, you should use a barrier method (like a condom) for the rest of your pill pack. When you forget to take a birth control pill, you increase the chance of releasing an egg from your ovary. 

Emergency Contraception

Emergency Contraception can stop a pregnancy before it begins. There are different types of Emergency Contraception. 

  • Paragard IUD is the most effective type of Emergency Contraception. You will need to make an appointment with your provider and have it inserted within 5 days of unprotected sex. Paragard is hormone-free and lasts up to 10 years. This would be a good choice if you do not want children anytime soon. 
  • Ella works within 5 days of unprotected sex, and is available by prescription only. 
  • Over-the-counter options are available without a prescription (such as Plan B and Next Choice), but need to be taken as soon after unprotected sex as possible. These options are usually held behind the pharmacy counter, so you'll need to ask the pharmacist to grab one for you. 

Hypothetical situation: your condom breaks, and you and your partner are worried. What will you do? Read more about Emergency Contraception, and think about what you would do in this situation. 

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    Did you know that men who used a condom with lube got as aroused as those who didn’t use a condom at all? Extra lube has some exciting benefits. No matter how turned on you are, latex from condoms can cause dryness. Try placing a dab of lube on the tip of the penis before rolling the condom!