Last month we mentioned the eye-opening statistic that half the pregnancies in the United States each year are unplanned. Theoretically birth control pills are 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, yet the real-world failure rate of 5% per year catches many couples by surprise. Here are some strategies you can use to improve these odds.
Quick Start can be implemented with contraceptive pills, Ortho Evra® patch, Nuva Ring® [vaginal], or Depo-Provera®. These contraceptives are started immediately during the office visit in which prescribed, regardless of the day of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Studies of Quick Start have found that it eliminates much of the confusion regarding when to start a method, continuation rates better than those observed with traditional starts times, and produces no differences in the effect of bleeding patterns. It is usually recommended to use a back-up method, such as condoms, for the first week.
Forgetting to take oral contraceptive pills at the beginning of a cycle produces the greatest risk of breakthrough ovulation. One reason is being unable or forgetting to obtain a new pill pack in time to begin a new cycle. It is very important to start your birth control pills on time and not extend the hormone- free interval (some recently introduced pills have even shortened this interval to 4 days eg. Yaz® and Lo-Estrin 24®). Also try to get your prescription for a one-year supply, preferably in 3 pack allotments (unfortunately some health insurance companies prohibit this time-saving practice, while others only allow it though their mail-order pharmacies).
For couples using condoms consider obtaining a written prescription for Plan B® emergency contraception in advance, also known as the “morning after pill,” in case you need it and to avoid any confusion at pharmacies until it becomes universally available over-the-counter. Finally, you should always call your doctor before discontinuing any prescription medication, including contraceptives.
Hopefully you’ll find these tips helpful enhancing your protection against an unplanned pregnancy.
Forgetting to take birth control pills at the beginning of a cycle produces the greatest pregnancy risk.
Wishing you good health!
Women’s Health Specialists
2299 Mowry Ave. Suite #3C
Fremont, CA 94538