Sofie Wise

Christina Wedberg

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About Author — Christina has been a writer since 2010 and has an M.F.A. from The New School for Social Research. Christina specializes in writing about health issues and education.

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Taking the birth control can be a safe and effective way to help keep you from getting pregnant, but certain factors may reduce its effectiveness. Read on to find out more about the effectiveness of birth control pills.

How Effective Are Birth Control Pills?

No contraceptive is foolproof. For maximum effectiveness, it is important to take your birth control pill consistently every day. If you never miss a day, the birth control can be 99% effective. Realistically, sometimes missing a day cannot be helped, so the pill is around 91% effective assuming that you miss it every now and again.

Is the Pill More Effective Than Other Contraception?

Contraception methods fall into five basic categories. Some methods are more effective than others. The birth control groups are:

  • Permanent Birth Control – This method includes medical procedures such as having a tubal ligation or a vasectomy. Effectiveness ranges from 99.5% – 99.9% effective

  • Hormonal Birth Control – This method includes taking the birth control pill and ranges from 92% – 99.9% effective.

  • Prescription Birth Control – This method includes taking hormonal birth that contain synthetic estrogen or progestin and range from 86% – 99.9% effective.

  • Over-the-Counter Birth Control – This method includes spermicide and condoms and range from 72% – 88% effective.

  • Natural Birth Control – This method ranges from about 77% – 95% effective.

How Soon Will the Pill be Effective After You Start Taking It?

If you are taking the combination pill, you should be protected right away if you take it on the first day of your period. If you start taking the pill after your period, you’ll need to wait at least seven days before you are completely protected.

If you are taking a progestin-only pill (mini-pill), you should use another form of birth control protection for at least two days after starting these pills.

Are Birth Control Pills Effective if I Forget to Take a Pill?

To be fully effective, you must take your birth control pill every day without missing a dose. If you do miss a day, you are still protected. Take the pill you missed as soon as you remember even if you end up taking two pills in one day. Then take the rest of the pack as you normally would.

Do Certain Factors Lower the Effectiveness of the Birth Control Pill?

There are certain factors that can lower the effectiveness of taking the birth control pill. If you get sick with vomiting or diarrhea for more than 48 hours, this can have an impact on how well the birth control pill will protect you from pregnancy. There are also some medicines and herbal supplements that can increase your chances of getting pregnant while taking birth control, such as:

  • St. John’s Wort
  • Rifampin (antibiotic)
  • Griseofulvin (antifungal)
  • Some kinds of anti-seizure medications
  • Some kinds of HIV medications

If you are taking any of these medications or supplements long term, check with your doctor to discuss other methods of birth control and use a backup method of birth control when having sex with your partner.

Looking to start birth control? Book an appointment with a PlushCare doctor and get a prescription today!

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