How do I take combined birth control pills

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The pill comes in packets of 21 or 28 tablets. If you have a 28-day packet, take one pill every day of the month. As soon as you have finished one packet, begin taking pills from another packet. (The last 7 pills in a 28-day packet are made of sugar. They have no hormones in them. These sugar pills help you to remember to take a pill each day.)

If you have a 21-day packet, take a pill every day for 21 days, then wait 7 days before beginning a new packet. Your monthly bleeding will usually happen during the days you are not taking pills. But begin a new packet even if your monthly bleeding has not come.

With both 21-day and 28-day packets, take the first pill on the first day of your monthly bleeding. This way you will be protected right away. If it is after the first day, you can start taking a pill on any of the first 7 days of your monthly cycle. But you will not be protected right away, so for the first 2 weeks you are taking the pill you should also use another family planning method or not have sex.

You must take one pill every day, even if you do not have sex. Try to take your pill at the same time every day. It may help to remember that you will always start a new packet on the same day of the week.

  • Burns, A. A., Niemann, S., Lovich, R., Maxwell, J., & Shapiro, K. (2014). Where women have no doctor: A health guide for women. Hesperian Foundation.
  • Audiopedia ID: en020426