Go to Content Go to Navigation Go to Navigation Go to Site Search Homepage

Birth control questions…we all have them. With the variety of methods, countless brand names and unique interactions, there’s a lot to know and a lot to be confused about. Confusion is the last thing we want you to experience when it comes to birth control so we’re answering our patients’ most frequently asked questions.


1. How long after I start taking my birth control is it effective? This really depends on the type of birth control you’re using and when you started in relation to your cycle. In most cases, we recommend using a backup method, like condoms, for seven days. Paragard, which is a copper IUD, is the only method that works immediately after being inserted.

2. Will birth control change my flow? When you begin using a hormonal birth control your periods become regulated by the hormones estrogen, progesterone or both, which may cause your flow to change. Periods are more likely to become lighter and you may experience bleeding in between periods. Many times, especially with methods like the shot, Mirena, and progesterone-only pills, known as POPs, your periods can stop altogether.

3. Will antibiotics decrease the effectiveness of my birth control?Generally no. There is a very small chance antibiotics will change the effectiveness of your birth control so we encourage you to ask your doctor if you’re concerned, but this is very rare. Common antibiotics given for infections are not going to be a big concern, but alert your doctor, especially at hospital or urgent care visits, of birth control use.

4. Why would I need birth control if I’m not sexually active? Certain types of birth control have benefits beyond preventing pregnancy. They can regulate periods, treat heavy and/or painful menstruation, and even decrease the risk of some cancers. It’s also a great way to stay prepared for when you do become sexually active.

5. What happens if I miss a pill? In most cases if you miss one pill, you can catch up by taking two pills the next day, but it really depends on the pill type and when you forgot to take it. If you use birth control pills with estrogen and progesterone and miss two or more pills in a row, we recommend using a backup method or abstain from having sex for seven days. If you use POPs it is important to take the pill at the same time every day and use a back up method like a condom for 48 hours.

If you’re considering using birth control for the first time or switching methods, it’s important to discuss your options and concerns with a medical professional. If you’d like to make an appointment at Planned Parenthood call 1.888.743.PLAN (7526) or click here.

What birth control questions do you have?


Sign up for our blog!

Monthly news, stories, and video