YAY, you’ve finally gotten your first batch of birth control pills from Pandia Health in the mail! Now, you might be asking yourself: how soon can I have unprotected sex? Well, don’t get too excited just yet – depending on which form of birth control you’re on and where you are in your menstrual cycle, it may take a few days before you reach the level of protection advertised. 

Every form of birth control is different so let’s take a look at how each one works. If you’re not already signed up to receive your birth control pills with FREE delivery from Pandia Health, join today!

Cycle Timing Matters

How quickly your birth control method starts working depends on where you are in your menstrual cycle and which form of birth control you’re taking.

If you’re starting on the pill, we recommend starting on the last day of your period, around day 3-5 of bleeding, depending how many days you bleed.

Other providers may tell you to start it the Sunday after you start your next period; this “Sunday Start” is to make you get your bleeds during the week and not “ruin your weekend” with blood.

If you start using the birth control pill, patch, ring, shot, hormonal IUD or the implant within 5 days after the first day of your period, these methods should start working immediately; it takes about 30 minutes for most drugs to start working. However, if you are heavier/larger, it may take a week or more to get to a good level.

This is because, while you’re on your period, you’re likely not within your fertility window. The egg is discarded during menstruation along with the lining of your uterus (endometrium), which is there to support an embryo if you are trying to get pregnant. Of course, there are always exceptions and you can theoretically get pregnant at any time during your cycle if your body randomly releases an egg or it wasn’t a real bleed (i.e. spotting).

Dr. Sophia Yen, CEO and Co-Founder of Pandia Health, recommends using a backup method for at least 1 week or 1 month to be absolutely safe. Condoms are recommended at all times to prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) because birth control will only protect you from pregnancy. Your chances of pregnancy decrease when you combine these methods with condoms – woohoo!

If you start your new hormonal birth control on day 6 or 7 of your period, or after your period, then you should wait at least 7 days before having sex without a condom. Again, Dr. Yen suggests 1 month of using a backup method to be safe – there’s no point in risking pregnancy. Luckily, Pandia Health can help you decrease your risk of pregnancy conveniently with automatic refills. Sign up with us, #SkipTheTrip to the pharmacy, and get your birth control with FREE delivery right to your mailbox.

Birth Control for Overweight, Obese, Higher BMIs

Studies have shown that for women who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or more, it can take up to 10 days for the hormones to level out; for those with BMIs less than 30, it takes 5 days. So, if your BMI is 30 or more, then you might want to wait at least 10 days before relying solely on your hormonal birth control.

How fast do birth control pills start working?

There is a wide selection of birth control pills out there that can be categorized into two main types: Combination Pills and Progestin-Only Pills (POPs). The time at which these begin to act differ.

Combination Pills

Dr. Yen’s recommended method mentioned above applies here. If you take the pill within 5 days from the start of your period, you’re ready to go! If not, use a condom during sex as a backup method for at least 7 days. It takes 7 full days at any other point in your cycle to reach effectiveness. 

Progestin-Only Pills

Progestin-Only Pills begin to work within 48 hours of starting them, no matter where in your cycle you start them. But if you start them within 5 days of the FIRST day of your period, you are set!

Immediate Birth Control

Some forms of birth control have guaranteed immediate action. For example, tubal ligation, (getting your tubes tied), works immediately. The copper IUD Paragard also works right away and it can even be used as a form of emergency contraception – it’s actually the MOST effective emergency contraception out there.

Play it Safe: Use a Condom!

If you use a condom WITH your hormonal birth control, then you’re in the clear.
Dr. Yen recommends that anyone with a uterus having penis-in-vagina relations use a condom. The main benefits include:
1. Preventing STIs. Unless you are both virgins and have never been fingered or sexually assaulted (that you are aware of), then there is a risk of infection.
2. No leaking of semen for the next 24 hours for the person with a uterus. Respect your body, avoid messing up your vaginal flora, and use a condom.

No glove, no love!

If you’re worried about sensation, you don’t have to compromise protection. There are different degrees of thickness for condoms and there are thinner ones that offer a low risk of breakage. Check out the “female/male” reviews of condoms on condomdepot.com
In addition, you can check out our YouTube channel for frequently asked birth control questions answered by Dr.Yen. 

Remember, Pandia Health can help you get a prescription for the birth control pill, patch or ring and/or deliver your usual birth control to you, with FREE delivery! And if you have insurance, “FREE of charge” = no copay, no deductible!

This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. Please consult YOUR doctor/provider before changing, stopping, or starting any medications.