Birth control pill package icon
Birth control pill 
  • 91% effective
  • Take daily
  • Prescription required
  • Contains hormones
  • No STI/STD protection
  • Lighter periods

  

What is it?
  • The birth control pill is a small tablet with a combination of hormones that you take daily to prevent pregnancy.

  • Birth control pills come in a pack, and you swallow 1 pill every day.

  • There are multiple types of birth control pills.

  • If used perfectly, the pill is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. But people aren’t perfect. So, in reality, the pill is 91% effective.1
  • The pill contains the hormones estrogen and progestin to stop you from getting pregnant.

  • The hormones in the pill work by:

    • Stopping your ovaries from releasing eggs. When eggs aren’t released, you can’t get pregnant.

    • Making the mucus in your cervix too thick for sperm to pass through. This prevents sperm from meeting an egg.
  • You can get a prescription for birth control pills at your medical facility.
  • In the United States, the average cost for one month’s supply of the pill is $50. The cost may vary depending on where you live.

  • Kaiser Permanente members may be able to get birth control pills at low or no cost.2
  • Swallow 1 pill each day at the same time.

  • After you finish the pack of pills, immediately start a new pack the next day.

  • Make sure you fill your prescription for the pill on time so you don’t miss a day.

  • If you forget to take 1 pill, take it as soon as you can.

  • If you forget to take 2 pills, take 1 as soon as you can and take your next pill at the usual time. You should also use condoms for the next 7 days.
  • The birth control pill is 91% effective in preventing pregnancy. That’s because people don’t always use it correctly or take it on time.

  • You may have more regular, lighter, shorter, or less painful periods.

  • The pill helps prevent or lessen acne, period cramps, and iron deficiency.

  • It’s temporary. You can stop using it whenever you want to try getting pregnant.

  • The pill decreases your risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers.
  • The birth control pill doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs), including HIV. Even if you take the pill, you should use a condom every time you have sex to reduce your chances of getting or spreading STIs.

  • In the first few months, you may have nausea, spotting between periods, or breast discomfort. This usually goes away after 2 to 3 months.

  • The pill can change your level of sexual desire.

  • Some people may experience mood changes, bloating, or headaches.

  • If you don’t take the pill on schedule every day, you’re more likely to get pregnant.

  • Blood clots in the veins or arteries are a serious, but uncommon, side effect of using the birth control pill. Blood clots can lead to serious conditions like stroke, heart attack, and deep vein thrombosis.

  

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© 2019 Kaiser Permanente

1“Birth control pill,” Planned Parenthood, plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/birth-control-pill/how-effective-is-the-birth-control-pill, accessed August 13, 2019.

2Costs are dependent on your policy terms. For questions about your coverage, please call Member Services or view your benefit coverage documents.