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How to Know if Birth Control is Working?

6 mins read

Birth control pills, also known as “the pill,” is a very popular oral contraceptive used to prevent pregnancy. The pill is a very effective form of birth control when taken regularly. It is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy with perfect use, and approximately 91% effective with almost perfect use — which is a more realistic number for most women. 

The better you are at taking the pill every day, the more effective it will be, but no method is 100% perfect so it is important to learn more about the pill and proper birth control. This article answers some FAQs about the birth control pill and how to know if the pill is working for you.

What is the Birth Control Pill?

The birth control pill is type of hormonal birth control that needs to be taken orally at the same time every day. It is a very small, round pill that is easy to swallow. Some pills are even chewable!

Combination birth control pills work by delivering a small dose of estrogen and progestin that signals to the body to reduce or stop ovulation, to thicken the cervical mucus to prevent sperm from entering the uterus, and to thin the lining of the uterus to reduce the likelihood that an egg would be able to attach to the uterine lining if it were fertilized. 

There are also progestin-only pills, known as the mini-pill, that are a better option for some women, including women who are breastfeeding, are at high-risk for blood clots, or who cannot otherwise take estrogen.

In addition to preventing pregnancy, the pill can lighten or stop your menstrual cycle, help reduce hormonal acne, reduce painful cramping, reduce the risk of ovarian and cervical cancer, treat endometriosis, as well as other reproductive health benefits.

Birth control pills often come in a pill pack that includes four weeks of pills. There is usually three weeks (21 days) of active pills and one week (7 days) of inactive pills or placebo pills. Some pill packs can include 24 days, 90 days, or even up to 365 days of active pills. The active pills and inactive pills are often different colors so it is easy to keep track of where you are in the cycle.

Most women will have a menstrual cycle or spotting while taking the inactive pills and may experience some spotting if taking a pill pack with a longer active pill section.

How Do you Know if the Pill is Working?

Based on what type of pill you are taking and when you start, your doctor can help you figure out how long it will take for your pill to start working.

It can take up to seven days for the combination pill to be effective and up to two days for the progestin-only pill to be effective at preventing pregnancy after you take the first dose. If you have intercourse during this time period after starting the pill, be sure to use another form of contraception to be sure you are protected against unintended pregnancy. 

There might not be any obvious external signs that the pill is working, but if you are taking it at the same time every day and not experiencing any adverse side effects then the pill should be effective.

If you are using the pill for other reasons, such as controlling irregular bleeding or hormonal acne, it can take up to four months to see signs that the pill is working. Be patient as your body adjusts to the new treatment and stay consistent with taking it regularly.

Long-term signs that the pill is working might include clearer skin, regular periods, and lighter and less painful periods.

Is it Possible for Birth Control to Not Work?

With perfect use of the birth control pill, it is possible but very unlikely to have an unintended pregnancy. Unintended pregnancies while on the pill can be serious and in case of ectopic pregnancy life-threatening, so call your NYC gynecologist or women’s health professional right away if you have missed a period or think you might be pregnant. Your doctor can discuss emergency contraception and pregnancy test options with you.

Of course, sometimes you forget a pill. If you forget a pill, take it as soon as you remember. If you missed a whole day, take the previous day’s pill plus your regular dose. Be sure to use a backup method of contraception or abstain from intercourse until you’ve gotten back on a regular regimen with your pill pack. It is a good idea to set calendar reminders or an alarm on your phone to help you remember to take your pill each day.

It is recommended to always use a backup birth control method while on the pill, such as condoms, especially if you have any missed pills. It is also important to use a barrier method of birth control, such as condoms, to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 

How Do you Know if your Birth Control isn’t Working for You?

There are many different types of birth control pills so it is possible you will need to try a couple different kinds before you find the one that is right for your body. If you’re experiencing negative side effects from the pill, you may need to switch to another type of pill with different hormone dosages.

If you are experiencing any side effects, such as headaches, nausea, irritability and mood swings, breast tenderness, or abnormal spotting or breakthrough bleeding, speak with your health care provider about your birth control options. These side effects are common and can usually be resolved by a doctor.

If you don’t think birth control pills are working for you and you are interested in trying another method, ask your health care provider about other birth control options such as a hormonal intrauterine device (hormonal IUD), a non-hormonal copper IUD, or a vaginal ring such as the NuvaRing. These options are great for women who struggle with taking the pill on a regular daily basis because they are inserted into the body rather than taken orally. The vaginal ring can be used for three weeks at a time and IUDs can last for years.

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Ranjana T.
Ranjana T.
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Me encantó la amabilidad d todos muy atentos muchas gracias x todo
Francis F.
Francis F.
20:33 21 Feb 24
I have been through a lot and not been able to care for myself for a while. Today I saw my doctor and was able to get the care started that I need. The staff made me feel human and even moved my appointment up to see me sooner. Great City Medical thank you and God bless you all.
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Chele From The Block (.
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Dennys O.
Dennys O.
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Staffs are awesome, friendly, and calm. Thank you so much!!
Ana B.
Ana B.
15:36 19 Feb 24
Excellent service from the beginning to understand all the process, solve questions and doubts. The CRM is excellent, and the medical exams are really efficient. The doctors and their staff are so kind and professional. I had my first visit on Monday, and on Friday, I got all the results. Excellent service, highly recommended.
Juliana R.
Juliana R.
16:22 16 Feb 24
At first it was hard getting through to Great City by phone. I soon discovered the chat. I was verily informed about everything from the costs right down to the procedure, that being examination for immigration purposes. I was kept up to date by Antony all the way up until it was time to pick up my form. The staff were very friendly as well. I should also mention too that the cost was the most inexpensive out of all the places I checked.
Mitsy D.
Mitsy D.
18:30 15 Feb 24
Escelente
Gilberto P.
Gilberto P.
13:34 15 Feb 24
Excellent service it’s a lot better than what it used to be and I am grateful for that.. doctor is wonderful.. and the PCA’s that work there are the best all of the women are caring and patient.. they make you feel welcomed.. Dr Marly Granna is the best .. you don’t meet doctors like her anymore these days 🙇‍♂️🙏
Thomas R.
Thomas R.
17:10 14 Feb 24
Amazing!!
Taqazua P.
Taqazua P.
00:08 13 Feb 24
Me gustó muy atentos
Irairis M.
Irairis M.
20:29 07 Feb 24
Excellent service and nice personal🤗
Elizabeth B.
Elizabeth B.
16:03 07 Feb 24
Very safe space , quick and give you all the answer’s you need
Diamond F.
Diamond F.
16:28 01 Feb 24
Great place, nice people. Good attitude Very helpful
Elvin A
Elvin A
20:36 31 Jan 24
I like this little clinic a lot! Very friendly stuff, Dr. Grana seems to be a very professional. Been going there for almost a year now. Highly recommend!
Yulya Y.
Yulya Y.
19:35 31 Jan 24
Staff was professional, courteous and informed me of anything along the way. I would definitely go back. I also waited 5 min before being seen on a Monday morning.
Sabrosa V.
Sabrosa V.
22:22 29 Jan 24
Great experience each time I go . Professional clean and very respectful office. Staff always pleasant. Doctors very caring.
Juanita R.
Juanita R.
19:30 24 Jan 24
I am so appreciate Dr. Tsyba and the whole team. You are the best 👌
Alla M.
Alla M.
23:05 22 Jan 24
Las atenciones excelentes, desde informacion y registro, tanto como el personal medico, solo deben mejorar el tiempo de espera para ls citas.
Wanda R.
Wanda R.
00:10 17 Jan 24
Excellent Service
Sathyanarayana Rao Mallur Venkata R.
Sathyanarayana Rao Mallur Venkata R.
01:04 11 Jan 24
From the front desk to the medical assistant, to the lab, and down to the doctor and whoever you passed by, it was excellent customer service. It was topnotch. I think the entire staff took extra customer service classes.
ibro D.
ibro D.
12:52 05 Jan 24
Super mega maravilloso las atenciones
Mildred Yajaira E.
Mildred Yajaira E.
17:22 27 Dec 23
Todos muy amable y comprometido por la salud del paciente .ame este grupo
Veronica R.
Veronica R.
17:56 26 Dec 23
They are very nice and friendly. The appointment didn’t take too long. The only thing I didn’t like is that I’m a transgender woman and all the time they used masculine pronouns which makes me feel uncomfortable. They could just try to be neutral or call me by my name instead.
jose
jose
15:53 22 Dec 23
El trato de todo el personal es excelente
Miosotis M.
Miosotis M.
19:53 20 Dec 23
Great service. The intake with the nurse was pleasant and fun. The time with the doctor was very comfortable, she listened very attentivet all my concerns, she was very gentle and professional.They have late afternoon appointments wich is a plus.The final step was the scheduling of the next appointment wich was fast!My mom was right to recommend her and I recommend them as well.
Juana G.
Juana G.
22:31 19 Dec 23
No long wait times staff is professional and pleasant Doctors are amazing and very knowledgeable
Denise C.
Denise C.
14:43 19 Dec 23
Excelente las atenciones y un personal medico de primera
Carlos F.
Carlos F.
18:11 15 Dec 23
Stagg was friendly doctor listen and communicated clearly….overall good experience
Ayasia K.
Ayasia K.
12:56 12 Dec 23
Everyone was very positive and reassuringly guided us through a rather complicated process. A great shoutout to Patricia for going above and beyond to make everything less stressful for us.
Ntani G.
Ntani G.
12:10 12 Dec 23
I went to have a immigration physical exam. Prior to visit, the chat/email service via their website was clear on my existing vaccinations and what paperwork/proof that would be sufficient. The staff was transparent in the cost and what to expect for the actual physical. The visit went smooth and the waiting time was within 10- minutes. Highly recommended
Jacky H.
Jacky H.
01:07 02 Dec 23
Clean facilitie staff are very professional doctors is awesome he explained everything clearly I understood everything he said to me it was a excellent experience I’ll definitely go back there
Kerry L.
Kerry L.
22:42 01 Dec 23
Excelentes atenciones, no las conozco personalmente y no se porque pero estas personas tienen algo sobrenatural porque no se explicar lo bien que me atendieron. son bastante rápidos pienso yo y todo muy limpio, muy lindo.. gracias chicas!
Chamel D.
Chamel D.
22:17 27 Nov 23
The experience was great Patricia was so nice dealing with me an my sister an so professional
Kwame L.
Kwame L.
19:29 27 Nov 23
Dr. Tsyba is one of the most greatest GYN there is. I couldn’t ask for a better DR.
Gordiva C.
Gordiva C.
22:54 22 Nov 23
Excelente servicio, la atención al cliente y el seguimiento al paciente muy bueno.
Edwin S.
Edwin S.
20:02 13 Nov 23
It’s always a welcoming experience.
Mr.M A
Mr.M A
22:30 09 Nov 23
Súper confortable and the stuff very sweet and professional!!
Elizabeth C.
Elizabeth C.
10:52 08 Nov 23
From the front deck to the Doctor are very easy to talk to, is a great experience visiting them
Azeez O.
Azeez O.
18:46 07 Nov 23
Fast , professional and great experience. I highly recommend this place for anyone who needs to do immigration medical exam . 10/10
adelina T.
adelina T.
23:36 26 Oct 23
J’ai eu une bonne impression a Harlem Gynecologist, l’accueil au top,le personnel au top,rien a dire
diaby H.
diaby H.
18:28 25 Oct 23
My MD is great! Very attentive to my needs. Great listener and good bedside manner.
Rhonda M.
Rhonda M.
18:06 24 Oct 23
I highly recommend Great Medical!they are amazing.
Julio C.
Julio C.
17:48 20 Oct 23
My first time visiting this practice. They were very through, from intake, which was done by a Dr. that I assumed was a nurse because he was so young lol. I wound up seeing Jaime who is a GYN NP, she was awesome. They asked a lot of questions about my history, which I really appreciated. Labs and Sonogram are done on-site. I will be returning.
Shay S.
Shay S.
01:13 20 Oct 23
The ladies are very polite and the doctors are really nice😊
Sheribel C.
Sheribel C.
19:45 12 Oct 23
I’ve been coming here for years and my doctor shows true concern about all my health issues staff here are also great
Trina M.
Trina M.
17:26 12 Oct 23
They e the best and I lov my dr Grana
jorge B.
jorge B.
16:40 09 Oct 23
I have been there about 5 times and I must say , they are very Professional and friendly. From front desk , nurses and doctors.
Wendy W.
Wendy W.
11:05 06 Oct 23
Patty the sono tech and Dr. Yelena Tsyba are excellent care givers. They were kind courteous and answered all my questions
Elisa T.
Elisa T.
20:55 05 Oct 23
I think Dr. Akselrud’s bedside manner is exceptional. It mimics the hospitality depicted in movie, s yet rarely experienced in actual life. As such, I appreciate his expertise and welcome his opinion regarding my health and well-being.I consider him to be a Grade A physician without question!
latia H.
latia H.
20:26 05 Oct 23
Amazing and fast serviceEveryone is so kind and friendlyThank you
Anastasiia T.
Anastasiia T.
17:33 05 Oct 23
I had a great experience at Great City Medical. My appointment was scheduled right away, the staff is very nice and professional, communication was great and prompt. Highly recommend!
Stephany B.
Stephany B.
00:35 27 Sep 23
Great and fast service.. very friendly doctors and assistants..
Mohammed Y.
Mohammed Y.
19:40 26 Sep 23
Great place and Friendly staff .Dr. Tsyba is awesome
Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth M.
16:54 21 Sep 23
Muy buenas atenciones 👍🏽
Mateo Rosario H.
Mateo Rosario H.
16:22 21 Sep 23
The doctor and staff were truly amazing. They are friendly, caring and very professional. I was seen immediately and felt very comfortable in the calmenvironment.
Daysi P.
Daysi P.
00:31 15 Sep 23
helpful,quick response and communication
Cherry P.
Cherry P.
01:26 14 Sep 23
It was all smooth. They shared the information with me prior to the medical immigration test. I highly recommend great city. 5 stars for e-communication and responsiveness!
Mahy H.
Mahy H.
17:34 13 Sep 23
Th everyone is amazing! From the reception all the way to the doctors
Winnie G.
Winnie G.
16:54 06 Sep 23
The wait to be seen is short and everybody worked well together to give each patient a pleasant experience.
Sharon P.
Sharon P.
22:46 05 Sep 23
The staff was knowledgeable of my situation and took care of me properly.
Tyrone M.
Tyrone M.
18:26 30 Aug 23
Good service!
Leandro A.
Leandro A.
16:38 30 Aug 23
Dr yelena is great
Dayana R
Dayana R
16:20 30 Aug 23
Muy profesional
Jose Joaquin Campos J.
Jose Joaquin Campos J.
18:25 22 Aug 23
Fun visit, everyone was super sweet and beautiful! From the front desk allllll the way up until I had my blood drawn at the end! Would recommend to any woman/person
Jasmine K.
Jasmine K.
00:01 15 Aug 23
I finally have a great medical Dr.. She ordered blood work an gave me medical referrals.I love my GYN DR. at this office tooThe office is very nice n clean the front desk receptionists are all very nice a pleasant
Kyra W.
Kyra W.
17:53 07 Aug 23
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