How to take oral contraceptive medication

Estrogen/progestin combination pill schedule

Use one of the following methods:

  • You can take your first pill on any of the first 5 days of your menstrual cycle. Some women pick a "start" day of the week, like Sunday. Others start on the first day of their period. Talk to your health professional about what might work best for you.
  • Try to take your pill at the same time every day. Take one tablet daily for 20 or 21 days. This is followed by 7 or 8 days of no hormones (or sugar pills provided in the pack). This is when you have a menstrual period. You then start a new pack of pills.
  • For Seasonale, take the active hormone pills continuously for 3 months. This is followed by 7 days of sugar pills. You then start a new pack of pills. If you have breakthrough bleeding during the 3 months, your health professional will prescribe extra estrogen. Seasonique meets this need by using low-dose estrogen pills instead of the 7 days of sugar pills.

If you prefer, you can use a weekly hormone skin patch or monthly vaginal ring instead of daily pills.

Last Updated: January 28, 2009

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