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,
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.