Great question! There are many different types of birth control pills and pill packages. The most common pill package contains 21 active pills (those with hormones) and 7 placebo pills (those without hormones). Placebo pills also called “sugar pills” or “reminder pills” are simply place holders. These pills exist at the end of the pill pack and are usually a different color than the rest of your pills. The purpose of the placebos is to help keep you on track with taking your pills every day at the same exact time, even during your period. As long as you have taken your “active” pills as prescribed, same time every single day, then during placebo week you will still have protection against pregnancy. Placebo week also allows you to have a period, which for most girls, is lighter and more regular due to the help of the pill.
However, it’s very important to have a clear understanding of your birth control pill. As we mentioned, there are many different versions of the pill. There are some pill packs that contain 28 pills total, 24 of those pills are “active”, while only 4 are placebos. Although the last 4 pills are placebos, some manufactures add in vitamins such as folic acid, which can help the body make healthy red blood cells.
If you are thinking of skipping your placebo pills or making any changes to your birth control pill, speak to your health care provider (HCP) first before making any changes.