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How Long Does it Take for Birth Control to Work?

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How Long Does it Take for Birth Control to Work?

September 1, 2020 Read Time - 11 minutes

How Long Does It Take for Birth Control to Work?

Most birth control methods take a week to start working effectively. However, because there are many different types of birth control and everyone’s body is different, it’s best to do your research.

With the continuing advancement of birth control methods, there are a variety of choices for women depending on their needs. Each form of birth control has its own pros and cons and the time it takes for them to start working varies, as well. And it’s no surprise that women often wonder how long it takes for their birth control to starting working.

Below, we’re going to review all the different types of popular birth control methods as well as how long each takes in order to start working. This is crucial information that will allow you to plan a safe and healthy sexual life.


Read: Get Your Birth Control Online


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Types of Birth Control

There are many different types of birth control, from pills to implants to physical barriers. Let’s look at some of the most common forms of birth control and the amount of time each takes to kick in fully.

Birth Control Patch

A birth control patch is a thin piece of plastic that works similarly to birth control pills, but only needs to be changed once a week. Birth control patches work by adhering to your skin and releasing hormones that way. Generally, the hormones include both estrogen and progestin.

The patch does require a prescription from a medical professional or gynecologist, and is covered under many insurances. It is important to note that this form of birth control does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases as it is not contact-based.

How Long Does a Birth Control Patch Take to Work?

The time it takes for a birth control patch to become effective depends on when you had your last period. If you start using the patch within the first part of your period, usually the first five days or so, the patch will start working immediately.

During menstruation, it is harder to get pregnant and if you catch your ovulation in the first half of your period, this form of birth control will kick in quickly.

If, though, you already had your period, the birth control patch will take 7 days to start working. This seven-day gap is important to note and it’s crucial to use backup protection during this time if you are sexually active.

Birth Control Vaginal Ring

The birth control ring is a small, soft ring that is inserted vaginally to help prevent pregnancy. The ring, like the birth control patch mentioned above, has a combination of hormones, including estrogen and progestin, that prevent ovulation.

The birth control ring also thickens a woman’s cervical mucus, making it harder for sperm to enter the uterus. The timing of insertion of the birth control ring depends on the dates of a woman’s menstrual cycle.

How Long Does It Take for a Birth Control Vaginal Ring to Start Working?

Like the patch, the birth control ring slowly emits hormones and therefore, there might be a gap between when you insert the ring and when it starts working. Most medical professionals recommend using a backup form of birth control for about a week while the ring adjusts.

Although, using protection like condoms always helps protect against sexually transmitted diseases so no harm in being extra precautious!

Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills are likely the most common form of birth control and have been around for a while. Depending on the brand, these pills contain different levels of hormones and have various effects on the body.

Some common birth control pill brands include Yaz, Yasmin, and Ortho Tri-Cyclen. A medical provider can prescribe these pills based on which are best for a patient and their needs, but no matter the brand or hormone level, all help prevent pregnancy.

How Long Do Birth Control Pills Take to Work?

How long does it take for the pill to protect against pregnancy? If you start your pills today you will want to account for at least 7 days of time for them to kick in. During this time, you need to use secondary protection, such as condoms, to help prevent pregnancy. Hormones take a little while to kick in, much like other body functions, which is why you want to err on the side of safety.


Read: How To Get Free Birth Control


Birth Control Shot

A birth control shot, often known as the depo shot (AKA Depo-Provera), is an injection you get from a nurse or doctor once every 3 months. This type of birth control is convenient for people who don’t want to take a pill every day, but it does require regular visits to the doctor because the shot only works when administered on time. Like other forms of birth control, the birth control shot contains levels of hormones to help prevent ovulation or the fertilization of an egg.

How Long Does It Take the Birth Control Shot to Take Effect?

When used properly, birth control shots like Depo are extremely effective. When first starting the birth control shot, you will want to wait seven days for the hormones to kick in. If you have the shot administered during the first half of your menstrual cycle, which is within the first five days, the shot may be effectively immediately. But as a precaution, most medical professionals recommend using a secondary form of protection for the first week after getting the birth control shot.

Another note about the birth control shot is that if you are trying to get pregnant, it may take up to 10 months after your last shot to get pregnant. This is because after stopping this form of birth control, the hormones take a while to clear out of a woman’s system.

Birth Control Implant

A birth control implant is a small, matchstick sized rod that gets placed right underneath the skin to help prevent pregnancy. According to some medical professionals, the birth control implant is one of the most effective types of birth control (it boasts a 99% effectiveness rate, according to Planned Parenthood). Another nice thing about the birth control implant is that it can be inserted and left for up to 4 years with no maintenance.

This is a great choice for women who might not have the time (or forget!) to take a birth control pill every day. The birth control implant also has lower levels of hormones and only has progestin, not estrogen. Common names for this type of birth control include Nexplanon and Implanon.

How Long Does It Take the Birth Control Implant to Start Working?

Similar to the other birth control methods mentioned above, the birth control implant starts working within a week after insertion and immediately if inserted during the first part of a woman’s period. Most doctors recommend accounting for at least 7 days for the implant to fully kick in.

Cervical Cap

Unlike the birth control methods mentioned above, a cervical cap is a physical barrier that helps prevent pregnancy. This sailor hat-shaped silicon device goes in front of a woman’s cervix to help prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg. A cervical cap is used every time before sexual intercourse and varies in effectiveness, depending on how well it is used.

Cervical caps work best for women who have never given birth. Cervical caps should also be combined with spermicide, a chemical compound that kills sperm before they can fertilize an egg. This double approach helps increase the effectiveness of cervical caps.

How Long Does It Take Cervical Caps to Work?

Because a cervical cap is a physical barrier, it doesn’t need the time the above methods need for hormones to kick in. Cervical caps contain no hormones, but are instead used before intercourse and with spermicide. In order to maximize effectiveness, cervical caps should be inserted up to 6 hours before sex and must be kept in for 6 hours after sex. Therefore, a cervical cap starts working immediately.

Although cervical caps are a physical form of birth control, they still don’t protect against STDs. Always use a condom, even if you are also using a cervical cap, to help prevent pregnancy and STDs.

Diaphragm Birth Control

Diaphragms are similar to the cervical caps explained above, but come in a different shape. A diaphragm is a dome-shaped insert that is used to cover your cervix during intercourse. Like cervical caps, diaphragms have no hormones because they are a physical type of birth control. For maximum effectiveness, diaphragms should also be used with spermicide to both block off your cervix and also kill sperm before they enter. Diaphragms boast a relatively high effectiveness percentage when used correctly (up to 92%).

How Long Does It Take Diaphragm Birth Control to Start Working?

Diaphragms start working immediately after insertion and can be inserted up to 2 hours before sexual intercourse. Any longer than that and you risk the spermicide becoming less effective. After sex, you must keep the diaphragm in for at least 6 hours, but no more than 24 hours. If you have sex again with your diaphragm still inserted, apply new spermicide.

Condoms

Condoms are another form of physical birth controls that are worn by men during sexual intercourse. They are made of latex or other rubbery materials and are put on before sex. Condoms don’t contain any hormones and are the only type of birth control that helps protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

They are effective on their own, but when used in conjunction with another form of birth control, condoms are even better at preventing pregnancy. You can get condoms over the counter without a prescription, and even for free at some health clinics.

How Long Does It Take Condoms to Work?

Because condoms are a physical form of birth control, they start working immediately after application. Condoms should always be applied before insertion and are recommended for use during vaginal, anal, and oral sex to help prevent STDs.

IUD

An IUD, or intrauterine device, is a type of birth control that is inserted into your uterus and can be left in for up to 12 years. There are two main types of IUDs – copper IUDs, like ParaGard, and hormonal IUDs, like Mirena or Skyla. Copper IUDs work by changing the direction of sperm (sperm don’t like copper and want to stay away).

Hormonal IUDs work similar to the birth control implants mentioned above, by releasing hormones to prevent ovulation and to thicken cervical mucus in order to prevent sperm from fertilizing. Both types of IUDs are extremely effective and because they can be left in for so long, are a good choice for women who want a “set it and forget it” approach to birth control.

How Long Does It Take an IUD to Work?

Copper IUDs start working immediately after insertion because they use the metal as a birth control method. IUDs that contain hormones take a week to start working fully. Always use a secondary form of birth control while waiting for your IUD to be effective.


Read: How to Get Tested for STDs: A Helpful Guide


  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

Book an appointment PlushCare-App-Steps

Important Things To Remember

There are many forms of birth control available today with varying levels of hormones and methods of use. Some of the most common include birth control pills, shots, implants, patches, rings, and physical barriers. These birth control methods have different periods of time before they start working. Below are some key takeaways:

  • Most birth control methods take about a week to kick in. If you administer the birth control during the first half of your period, it may take effect immediately.
  • Either way, most gynecologists and medical practitioners recommend using a secondary form of birth control, such as a condom, to be extra safe. Plus, condoms are the only way to protect against sexually transmitted diseases, so better safe than sorry!
  • In addition to helping prevent pregnancy, birth control has many other side effects, both intended and unintended. Some birth controls with higher levels of estrogen may help with acne, PMS symptoms, and more. Some birth control methods, such as a copper IUD, have no hormones at all.

Read More About Birth Control

What Happens When You Stop Taking Birth Control?

Can You Get a Yaz Prescription Online?

Are There Birth Control Pills That Help With Acne?

Sources:

my.clevelandclinic.org. Birth Control: The Pill. Accessed on September 1, 2020. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/3977-birth-control-the-pill

plannedparenthood,org. How long does it take for the pill to become effective? Accessed on September 1, 2020. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/teens/ask-experts/how-long-does-it-take-for-the-pill-to-become-effective

healthline.com. How Long Does It Take for Birth Control to Work? Pills, IUD, and More. Accessed on September 1, 2020. https://www.healthline.com/health/birth-control/how-long-does-birth-control-take-to-work

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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