How Long Does It Take Birth Control To Work?

If you’re interested in getting onto birth control so that you can enjoy sex with your partner without worrying about having a surprise pregnancy, you’ll naturally want to know when it’s going to kick in. In other words, how long does it take birth control to work? That all depends on what kind of birth control you’re using. Read on for a specific guide.

  1. If you’re on the combination pill The combination pill contains the hormones estrogen and progestin. With this type of pill, good timing is your friend to ensure greater protection. If you begin taking this birth control pill on the day that your period starts, you’ll get instant protection against unwanted pregnancy. If you don’t manage to do that, you’ll have to ensure you wait for seven days before you have sex without any protection. Or, just use a condom, already.
  2. If you’re on the progestin-only pill This type of birth control, as its name suggests, only contains progestin. However, it contains a lower dose of progestin as compared to what you’ll get in a combination pill. If you’re taking this pill, you will have to ensure you use protection for two days after you’ve swallowed it for the first time.
  3. If you have a copper IUD The great thing about this type of birth control is that it provides immediate protection as soon as you get it inserted. The copper IUD is a T-shaped plastic device that needs to be inserted into your uterus by your doctor, so book that appointment!
  4. If you have the hormonal iud The hormonal IUD is also a T-shaped plastic device that gets inserted into the uterus, but it releases progestin. Your doctor will insert this when you’ve started the week of your expected period. When it’s inserted within seven days of the start of your period, you’ll gain instant protection against unwanted pregnancy. Note that if your IUD has been inserted at another time of your cycle, you’ll have to rely on protection, such as condoms, for seven days.

How long does it take birth control to work?

  1. If you have the birth control implant The contraceptive implant is a small plastic stick that gets inserted into the skin of your upper arm, where it releases a dose of progesterone hormone to line the uterus to prevent pregnancies. It’s also effective as soon as you’ve had it inserted, which is a bonus. You just have to ensure that it’s been inserted within the first five days of your period starting to gain this benefit. If you can only insert it at another time of the month (because, life), you will have to give it seven days to work.
  2. If you have the Depo-Provera shot Depo-Provera is the brand name for a contraceptive injection that contains progestin. To use it correctly, make sure you have the first birth control shot within five days of your period starting. This will protect you within a day, so it’s fast-acting. If you don’t have it done at this time, you’ll have to protect yourself for the next seven days with condoms. Note that you have to get your shot every 12 weeks so that you stay protected against pregnancy.
  3. If you have a contraceptive patch The birth control patch is a sticky patch that you apply to your skin so that it can release hormones into the body to prevent pregnancies. When you first start wearing the contraceptive patch, you’ll have to wait for seven days to ensure that you’re protected. You have to be diligent about using the patch as one patch lasts for one week. You have to replace the patch every week for three weeks, then take one week off during which you don’t wear the patch.
  4. If you have the vaginal ring This form of birth control, sometimes referred to as the NuvaRing, is a soft plastic ring you insert into your vagina. It releases a dose of estrogen and progestogen hormones into your blood so that pregnancy is prevented. The vaginal ring will protect you immediately after it’s inserted, as long as you insert it on the first day of your period. At any other time of the month, make sure you give it seven days to become effective. You should also read about things you need to know about the vaginal ring to make sure you use it like a pro.

What About Protection Against STIs?

Regardless of how long it might take for birth control to work, there are some other potential benefits of using it. If you’re eager to start using birth control, you might wonder which method will not only protect you against pregnancy but also sexually transmitted diseases. The truth is that none of them will. If you and your partner haven’t been tested for STIs, you should always protect yourselves by wearing condoms. These are the only type of devices that will prevent pregnancy and keep you safe from STIs. But there are some things to know.

  1. Condoms made out of latex, polyurethane, and polyisoprene are considered the most effective at keeping STIs away. They protect you against fluid-spread STIs such as HIV, syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.
  2. By comparison, STIs that are spread via skin-to-skin contact, such as genital warts and herpes, the latter of which can cause some surprising symptoms, might not always get completely covered by condoms, so the best thing is to get tested with your partner before you head to the bedroom.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.