Instructions for Adolescents Using Birth Control Pills
This handout tells you how to take birth control pills. It answers questions many adolescents have. If you have concerns or other questions, please call the clinic at (608) 263-9000.
How the Pill Works
When you start taking the pill, you take one pill every day of the month. This daily, steady level of hormones helps to prevent your body from releasing its monthly egg.
If there is no egg in the tube, it cannot be fertilized by sperm and become a baby. Birth control pills work 99% of the time---as long as you remember to take one pill every day. Forgetting pills will increase your chance of pregnancy.
How Do I Start Taking My Pills?
1. Take your first pill on the first SUNDAY after your period begins. If your period happens to start on Sunday, take your first pill that day.
2. Swallow one pill every day until you finish the pack. Pills work best if taken at the same time every day. Try to associate taking your pill with an activity you do every day, for example, eating breakfast, brushing your teeth, or going to bed. If the pills make you feel sick to your stomach, try taking them at bedtime.
3. You should get your period while you are taking the seven different colored pills at the end of the packet. This is the 4th week of pills.
4. To prevent pregnancy during your first month of taking pills, you have to use extra protection like foam and condoms with a spermacide, or don't have sex at all. After the first month, you will be safe from pregnancy while taking the pills without using extra protection--if you haven't missed any pills.
5. REMEMBER: The pill only prevents pregnancy. It does not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases or the AIDS virus. Always have your partner use a condom to protect you from these diseases.
What Can I Expect When Taking the Pill?
1. Your periods may change on the pill. Most teenagers have a lighter flow and a shorter period. Sometimes you may skip a period. If you've taken your pills regularly, you're probably not pregnant. Call the clinic if you have questions. If you miss two periods in a row, come in for a pregnancy test.
2. The first three months on the pill, you may notice some breast tenderness, nausea, or bloating (usually less than three pounds). These should go away as your body gets used to the pill.
3. Another common side effect the first few months on the pill is breakthrough bleeding or spotting while in the middle of a pack of pills.
This is normal, and should get better each month you take your pills.
DO NOT STOP TAKING YOUR PILLS!!! Call the clinic if the bleeding becomes very heavy or painful or if you are worried.
What If I Forget a Pill?
- If you forget to take your pill at the regular time, take it as soon as you remember that day.
- If you miss one pill: If you forget to take the pill until the next day, take 2 pills to make up for the one day you missed. If you use a triphasic pill, use another method of birth control for the rest of the month. If you have questions, ask your pharmacist.
- If you miss two pills: Take two pills the day you remember, and 2 pills the next day, then one pill daily as usual. IMPORTANT: Use another method of birth control for the rest of the month (condoms & foam, or no sex).
- If you miss three pills: Call the clinic for further instructions.
If you are taking the antibiotic Rifampin while on the pill, you could get pregnant or have breakthrough bleeding. Other antibiotics have rarely been associated with failure of the birth control pill. Because an interaction is a possibility and the pill is not 100% effective, to decrease the risk of failure from any cause:
- Report any diarrhea of any cause and use additional form of contraception during that cycle (example: condoms, foam, etc.)
- Report any breakthrough bleeding occurring after the first few months, this may be a sign of decreased effect, use extra precautions during that cycle.
- Take your pill at the same time every day.
- Never take someone else's pills. Do not use old pills; check the expiration date on your package.
- While taking birth control pills, do not smoke cigarettes.
- Have a complete physical exam and Pap smear once a year.
- When you are seen by a doctor for other problems, always mention that you are taking birth control pills.
- DO NOT STOP your pills without first talking to your doctor or nurse practitioner.
Contact Your Doctor (608-262-0486 After Hours) or
The Emergency Room If You Have
A A bdominal (stomach) pain - severe or prolonged
C C hest pain or shortness of breath
H Severe H eadaches
E E ye problems, like blurred vision, flashing lights or blindness
S S evere leg pains (calf or thigh)
Teenage pill users rarely run into serious problems.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 08/30/2007
Copyright © 08/21/2006 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4561
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