Planned Parenthood

Maryland

FAQs for Birth Control Users

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Birth Control Pills


What do I do if I miss taking one or more pills?

The effectiveness of most birth control pills is strongly affected by how consistently they are taken. The effectiveness or side effects of birth control pills can be altered by taking them late or by not taking them at the same time each day. Therefore, to get the highest effectiveness from birth control pills, take them at the same time every day. If you miss one of more pills, refer to the manufacturer package insert that came with your pills. In general, for most pills, the following should be followed:

  • If you have a 28-day pack and you missed any of the last 7 pills in the pack - don't worry about it (except Mircette, where the last 7 pills do matter). In a 28-day pack, the last 7 pills are placebo or "sugar" pills. These have no active ingredients; the pills are just there to help you know when to start your new pack. But make sure you start your new pack on time.
  • If you miss taking one or more pills (except the last 7 pills in the 28-day pack), you may not be protected from pregnancy.

If you had intercourse in the last 5 days:

  • Emergency Contraception (EC) should be considered to prevent pregnancy. To get EC, call your nearest health center.
  • Take one birth control pill as soon as you notice you have missed one or more. Use a backup method of birth control for the next 7 days.
  • If you missed 4 or less pills in a row, continue taking one pill each day as usual until you finish the pack.
  • If you missed 5 or more pills, continue taking one pill each day as usual until you reach the placebo ("sugar") pills, or reach the end of your 21-day pack. Do not take the placebo pills; instead start a new pack of pills. Your bleeding may be unpredictable throughout this next cycle. Keep taking your pills on-time each day regardless of whether you are bleeding or not.

If you did not have intercourse in the last 5 days:

  • Take 2 birth control pills together as soon as you notice you have missed one or more. Use a backup method of birth control for the next 7 days.
  • If you missed 4 or less pills in a row, continue taking one pill each day as usual until you finish the pack.
  • If you missed 5 or more pills, continue taking one pill each day as usual until you reach the placebo ("sugar") pills, or reach the end of your 21-day pack. Do not take the placebo pills; instead start a new pack of pills. Your bleeding may be unpredictable throughout this next cycle. Keep taking your pills on-time each day regardless of whether you are bleeding or not.


Do antibiotics make "The Pill" less effective?

Only one antibiotic, rifampin - is known to make the Pill less effective. Rifampin is used to treat tuberculosis. Other antibiotics do not make the pill less effective.

Certain other medicines, which are not antibiotics, may make the Pill less effective. These include:

  • Certain anti-HIV protease inhibitors
  • Certain anti-seizure medications
  • A particular anti-fungal medication - griseofulvin - which is used to treat severe, often life-threatening fungal infections

Is it normal to spot or bleed between my periods?

In the first few months of taking birth control pills, many women have some light bleeding or spotting between periods. Taking your pills at the same time each day can help this. If this continues after the first few months, call your health center. Missing pills can also cause spotting or bleeding between periods. Remember to keep taking your pills every day, at the same time even if you are spotting or bleeding.

Is it normal to miss my period when using "The Pill"?

When taking birth control pills, it is common to miss a period every once in a while, or have a period that is very light (just a brown stain on your underwear).

If you haven't missed taking any pills and you miss one period without any symptoms of pregnancy, it is unlikely you are pregnant. If you have missed more than 1 pill during your last pack, have missed two periods in a row, or have symptoms of pregnancy, keep taking your pills as usual but also get a urine pregnancy test.

 

FAQs for Depo Provera (the Shot) users


When is my next shot due?

To remain effective, you must have a Depo shot every 3 months (12 weeks). You can return to the clinic for your next shot up to 2 weeks before your due date or up to 1 week after your due date.

Why am I bleeding or spotting sometimes, but not on a regular schedule?

Spotting between periods is common for women using Depo Provera. If this bleeding is excessive, call your health center and ask to speak to the clinician. About half of women using Depo Provera will stop having periods entirely after the first year of use.

Is it normal to miss my period when using Depo Provera?

About half of women using Depo Provera will stop having periods entirely after the first year of use. Some women experience this earlier in their use of Depo Provera.

Is it safe to use Depo Provera for a long time?

Recent studies link Depo Provera use to temporary bone thinning. This is why women who use Depo should be especially careful to take calcium and vitamin D supplements and to get plenty of weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, running, or weight lifting. For most women, Depo Provera should not be used continuously for more than two years.

 

FAQs for Ortho Evra (the Patch) users


My patch fell off or is coming loose. What do I do?

All edges of the patch must be sticking to your body for it to be effective. If your patch is not sticking entirely, press it firmly for 10 seconds then check it again. If it is sticking, continue to use it for the rest of the 7 days. If it is not sticking well, remove it and put on another patch.

If your patch has come off entirely, apply a new one. If the patch has been detached for more than 24 hours, use a backup method of birth control for the next 7 days. Consider using Emergency Contraception if you had intercourse during the time your patch was detached.

Why do I get a rash when I put on "The Patch"?

For some women, the patch irritates their skin and causes redness or a rash. Try putting the patch in a different place on your body. Always apply the patch to clean, dry skin. Don't put the patch in places where there may be rubbing (under a bra strap or underwear waist band). Don't place it on skin that is already red or irritated, or where you have a cut. If the rash continues, call your health center.

Is it normal to spot or bleed between my periods when using "The Patch"?

Spotting or bleeding between periods is less common with the Patch than it is with birth control pills, but it can happen.

Is it normal to miss my period when using "The Patch"?

You may miss a period every once in a while when using "The Patch". If you applied your patch on-time each week and you don't have any symptoms of pregnancy, it is unlikely you are pregnant. If you did not apply or change your patch on-time, your patch fell off or became partially detached during this cycle, you've missed two periods in row, or you have symptoms of pregnancy, take a urine pregnancy test.

 

FAQs for NuvaRing (the Ring) users


My ring fell out. What do I do?

If the ring falls out, rinse it with cool or lukewarm (not hot) water and put it right back in. If the ring has been out for more than 3 hours, put the ring back in and use back-up contraception for the next 7 days. If your ring falls out regularly, please call your health center. The ring may not be the best method for you.

Do I need to keep it refrigerated before I use it?

No. The NuvaRing can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 months before use.

Can my partner feel "The Ring" during sex?

Most of the time, a man cannot tell that a woman has a NuvaRing inside her. Sometimes, a man might feel it with his fingers during foreplay or manual stimulation.

How far up do I have to put "The Ring"?

The NuvaRing can be anywhere in your vagina. If you feel it, then just push it up a little farther. The nerve endings in the upper vagina are not as sensitive as those near the opening.

What if I can't find or reach "The Ring"?

The NuvaRing can't get lost inside you. It cannot pass through your cervix into your uterus. If it hasn't fallen out, it is somewhere in your vagina. Use your index or middle finger to feel in your vagina, especially all the way up behind your cervix (your cervix feels like the tip of your nose.)

Is it normal to spot or bleed between my periods when using "The Ring"?

Spotting or bleeding between periods is less common with the Ring than it is with birth control pills, but it can happen.

Is it normal to miss my period when using "The Ring"?

You may miss a period every once in a while when using NuvaRing. If your inserted your NuvaRing on-time at the start of your cycle, the NuvaRing was in your vagina for the whole 3 weeks (never out for more than 3 hours), and you don't have any symptoms of pregnancy, it is unlikely you are pregnant. If the NuvaRing was out of your vagina for more then 3 hours during the 3 weeks, you inserted it late at the start of your cycle, you left it in for more than 4 weeks, you've missed two periods in row, or you have symptoms of pregnancy, take a urine pregnancy test.


Do you have questions about Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (IUDs and implants)? Check out our Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) page.

  • tumblr icon
  • google plus icon
  • twitter icon
  • rss icon
FAQs for Birth Control Users