When Does Birth Control Become Effective?

Birth control is a means in which pregnancy can be avoided. There are numerous choices of birth control available both for men and women, and condom being a popular choice due to the fact it protects from pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Other methods of birth control include the contraceptive pill, which can be up to 99.9% effective at stopping pregnancy when used correctly, although offers no protection against STI’s.

When Does Birth Control Become Effective?

For the Pill

To correctly answer this question, two factors must be identified: what contraceptive pill you are using, and the point in your menstrual cycle you began to take the contraceptive pill.

For women who are using the combination pill, it will become effective straight away, if you begin to take it within 5 days following your last period. Any time after this, then it will likely take 7 days for the pill to become effective.

For women who are using the progestin-only pill, it will usually take 48 hours (2 days) to become effective, irrespective of whether you have recently had your period or not.

As you may now have gathered, to correctly answer the question–when does birth control become effective? One must consider what methods of birth control they are practicing. Below is a table detailing the various types of birth control methods, and when they would take effect.

For Other Birth Control Methods


When Does It Become Effective

Copper IUD (ParaGard)

This method becomes effective immediately after insertion, meaning that you will be protected against pregnancy instantaneously.

Diaphragm, cervical cap, sponge

Once these methods of contraceptives are inserted into the vagina, they become effective instantaneously. Just be aware that unlike other methods of contraceptive, you have to use these every time you have sex.

Shot (Depo)

The shot takes around 7 days to become active, meaning that if you wish to have intercourse within that time, then you should use a back-up method of contraceptive.

Hormonal IUD (Mirena & Skyla)

This usually takes around 7 days to become effective, meaning that you will have to practice other methods of safe sex (such as condom) within the time period.

Implant (Nexplanon)

The implant takes around 7 days to become effective.

Surgical Tubal Ligation (tubes tied)

It is best to speak with one’s doctor about when it is safe to have sex after undergoing a surgical tubal ligation, they will be able to best advise you on when you will be in prime physical condition to resume sexual intercourse.

Essure (tubal occlusion)

As with the method of birth control above, speak with your doctor to best ascertain when it is safe to have sex. Remember that this method of contraceptive usually takes around three months to become effective.


It takes up to three months for the entirety of the semen to be nullified after undergoing a vasectomy. It is best to speak with your doctor to best ascertain when to begin having sex again after this procedure, and have a sperm count test to ensure that there is no active sperm in the semen.

How Effective Are the Pills?

When answering the question–when does birth control become effective? One must also consider how effective the contraceptive pill is, as well as factors which may affect the effectiveness of the pill.

The combination pill is thought to be most effective when taken every day. One must consume progestin-only pills at the exact same time each day to ensure their effectiveness, and maintain the correct balance of hormones with a woman’s body.

It is estimated that less than 1 out of 100 women who consume the pill as directed each day will get pregnant, if they do not deviate from the recommended dose. It is also estimated that around 9 in 100 women who do deviate slightly from the recommended dose, missing a day or two here and there will get pregnant.

Certain factors can make the pill ineffective.

  • One’s weight can be detrimental to the effectiveness of the pill, it being slightly less successful for those who are overweight.
  • There are numerous medications that can also make the pill have less of an effect, including: rifampin (antibiotic), griseofulvin (antifungal), St. John’s wort, some HIV medications, and some anti-seizure medications.
  • Other things to consider is that instances of diarrhea and vomiting can also affect the effectiveness of the pill.

And the pill offers no protection whatsoever from sexual transmitted diseases. To know whether the pill will be effective for you, speak with a medical professional.

How to Take Birth Control Pills

If you wish to answer the question–when does birth control become effective? It is important to also understand how to correctly take the birth control pill, so as to ensure its effectiveness.

The progestin-only pill comes in 28-day packs containing 28 active pills. One can choose to take a pill each day up to the third week of their menstrual cycle, then have a week off to get you period, or continue taking them for the fourth week and have no period. It should be mentioned that you may experience bleeding throughout the month on and off.

Combination pills either come in 21 or 28 day packs. The 21 day packs containing 21 active pills, the 28 day packs containing 21 active pills and 7 “reminder” pills. These are usually taken for the first three weeks of one’s menstrual cycle, followed with a week off.

It should be noted that whilst you may not take any contraceptive pills during the fourth week of your menstrual cycle, you will (most likely) still be protected against pregnancy.

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