family planning

Birth control pills - Types and Effectiveness of Oral contraceptive pills

  • 4.6   (8 Votes)
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Deepika Tiwari - MBBS on 11 Jul 2018 - Written by Dr. Somjate Manipalviratn - MBBS - Grammatically Approved by Dr. Kavita Jaggi Agrawal - MBBS

Birth control pills are available in different types which includes Combination Pills (COC's) and Progestin - Only Pills. The effectiveness of the birth control pills depends on the time period when they are consumed. One needs to keep a check on the consumption of oral contraceptive pills to get the desired results.

All the oral contraceptive pills have cycles to be taken regularly. There is a different ratio of the contraceptive pills in which some pills contain estrogen and some are the normal contraceptive pills. But missing contraceptive pills, taking certain medications, and other things may make it not work as well. 

1. Effectiveness of birth control pill:

There is a different ratio of the contraceptive pills in which some pills contain estrogen and some are the normal oral contraceptive pills without hormones. The most known facts are that the pill is about 91% effective to prevent the pregnancy. So, studies have proved that 9 out of 100 pill users get pregnant each year.

contraception, birth control methods

The better you are about taking your oral contraceptive pills every day and keeping a track of hormonal or non-hormonal contraception pills and starting your pill packs on time, the better it will work. But there's a very low chance that you could still get pregnant even when you are taking your pills regularly.

Most importantly effectiveness is the most important thing that everyone thinks about when picking what birth control methods to use, you can try implants or sponges. But if you decide the contraceptive pill is right for you then you should make sure you take them regularly for the best effectiveness.

2. How Long do birth control pills take to work:

This thing depends on when you are starting taking the oral contraception pills. You can take your first pill on any day of the month, but most importantly you may need a backup birth control methods (like condoms) for the initial 7 days.

contraception, birth control methods

Combination Pills (COCs):

  • If you start a combination of the oral contraception pills within 5 days after your period starts, you'll be definitely protected from pregnancy.
  • If you start a combination of the contraceptive pills any other time, you'll be protected against pregnancy after 7 days of taking the pill. Try another method of birth control methods like a female condom or condom or spermicide if you have intercourse during the first week when you're on the pill. 

Progestin-Only Pills

This is important to know that you can start progestin-only pills at any time anywhere. You'll be protected against pregnancy after 48 hours (2 days). So you should use another method of birth control methods (like condoms or sponge) if you have vaginal intercourse during the first 48 hours.

3. What lowers the pill's effectiveness:

The most important thing that makes the pill not work is not taking it every day or with the breakups of the regular periods. The contraceptive pill may be a little less effective for the women who are overweight. Some medications or oral supplements can also make it not work as well:

oral contraceptive pills, contracetion

  • The antifungal Griseofulvin (other antifungals do not make the pill less effective)
  • The herb St. John's Wort
  • Certain HIV medicines
  • Certain anti-seizure medicines

Always remember that none of the birth control methods is 100% effective. Even IUDs such as copper T can result in unwanted pregnancy sometimes. It is better to talk about safe sex with your partner for a healthy relationship.

Dr. Somjate Manipalviratn

Written by

Cryopreservation Specialist, Gynecologist

Dr. Somjate Manipalviratn MD is an infertility and cryopreservation specialist presently practicing at Jetanin Institute for Assisted Reproduction, Lumpinee, Bangkok and Superior ART. Dr. Somjate Manipalviratn is presently specializing in Fertility preservation, Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, IVF and IUI procedures. For more information regarding Dr. Somjate Manipalviratn, visit


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Anna ,Mcavoy

I gained around 10 kg of weight within 2 months. Is it a side effect of having these medicine, because gaining this weight is not normal and medicine does not work effectively on heavyweight as told in the article. Should I go for a checkup?

Sept. 30, 2018, 2:43 p.m. 4.5


Renuka Tiwari

i-pills and Yasmeen tablets are best birth control oral contraceptive pills. They are easily available and work efficiently too.

Sept. 14, 2018, 10:12 p.m. 5.0


Danny Rossell

I am too confused which contraceptive will be the best for me? And how to find out what I am allergic to? Please help!

Dec. 10, 2017, 8:36 p.m. 4.5


Ankita Mehra

I started the pills and I vomited almost everyday. Will get a checkup done next time.

Aug. 19, 2017, 5:59 p.m. 5.0


Amar Singh

Birth control pills are nothing but hormones. Should be taken only if it suits your body. Otherwise it can disrupt your hormonal balance.

Aug. 19, 2017, 5:57 p.m. 4.5


Radhika Pal

Oral contraceptive pills are more effective if they are used with other birth control methods like using a condom. Female condoms are also available now. They provide pretty much the same great protection from pregnancy and STDs like the regular condom.

Aug. 19, 2017, 5:55 p.m. 4.5


Anne Abbey

I prefer using progestins only pills as it works fast and no need to have any contraceptive like condoms for more than 2 days.

May 28, 2017, 5:33 p.m. 4.5


Deepika Baxi

I saw my mother taking those pills since I was a child and she hates taking those same as I. But it is reliable with fewer side effects. I used IUD first but got those removed during my pregnancy since then I am having oral birth control pills.

Jan. 15, 2017, 5:24 p.m. 4.5

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