I’ve been on the combined pill for years to control my period. If I am thinking about having sex, but I don’t want to get pregnant, how accurate would I have to be when taking the pill and for how long before having sex?

birth control pills

Great question, thank you! The combined pill contains two active hormones: estrogen and progestin (a hormone that is similar to progesterone). Just like with any birth control pill, whether you are taking it to regulate your period or to help protect from pregnancy, the pill is most effective when taken at the same exact time, every single day. Most combined birth control pill packs contain 28 pills, three weeks of active hormones and one week of inactive pills or “reminder pills.” Some girls may be prescribed the combined pill, but they skip the inactive pills each month and start a fresh pack of active hormones every 21 days. This is called continuous birth control. Whether you use the inactive pills or not, the pill works best is it is taken at the same time every single day. If you miss taking the pill by even an hour or so, you run the risk for break through bleeding. Choosing a good time during the day to take the pill can be challenging, especially with a busy schedule. Here are some helpful tips to stay on top of your pill: set a reminder on your phone, place your pill packets in the same spot each day, or plan to take your pill with doing a daily activity such as brushing your teeth. If you find that you continue to miss the pill despite setting reminders, etc., you may want to talk to your doctor about other methods of birth control. It’s also important to also use condoms when having sex since the pill won’t protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).