Understanding Medical Problems

Tips for Women Taking Birth Control Pills for the First Time

Taking birth control pills can give you a new sense of empowerment and ownership over your own sexuality and reproductive rights. Pills can also alleviate unwanted period symptoms like cramps and bloating. However, it can also take you a little time to get used to the pill and how your body reacts to it. Here are some tips that you're likely to find helpful when starting to take birth control pills for the first time.

1. Set an alarm.

You likely already know that you should take your birth control pill at the same time each day. Taking it late could reduce its effectiveness, and forgetting to take it altogether is definitely bad news. These days, most women set an alarm on their phones to remind them to take their pill. If you're the kind of person who sets their phone back down after an alarm and thinks they'll only need a minute, set a second reminder alarm after the first one so you actually take the pill when you intend to.

2. Keep track of any side effects.

Many women experience side effects when they first start taking the pill. These side effects can include breast tenderness, moodiness, and spotting. If you do develop any of these side effects, write them down in a journal. There's no need to worry just yet, but you do want to keep track of the side effects so that if they become worse or persist past the three-month point, you can contact your doctor. Your doctor can then switch you to a different pill that your body may react to better.

3. Use an alternative form of birth control for the first cycle.

If you start taking birth control immediately after your first period, it should theoretically be effective within one week. However, if you start taking it later than this, it may take a full month to be fully active. It's best to just err on the side of caution and use a secondary method of birth control, such as condoms, for the first month that you're using birth control pills. After that first month has passed, you will definitely be protected and you can stop using the secondary method if desired.

If you have any lingering questions or concerns about birth control pills, reach out to your doctor. They can give you more specific information about the brand of pills you've been prescribed and how they work.