STD Home > Important Info on Oral Contraceptives

When and How to Use Them

General considerations for when and how to use oral contraceptives include the following:
  • Oral contraceptives come in tablet form. They are taken by mouth once a day.
  • You can take oral contraceptives with or without food. If the pills bother your stomach, try taking them with food.
  • It is important to take oral contraceptives every day and at the same time each day. Try to pick a time that will be easy to remember, such as at bedtime or breakfast. If you have trouble remembering, please talk with your healthcare provider, as missing pills increases your risk of pregnancy.
  • Make sure you know exactly what to do if you miss any pills. In some circumstances, you may need to use a backup method of contraception, such as condoms, for seven days. Each pack comes with a leaflet with detailed instructions about how to start the pills and what to do if you miss any. Because these instructions may be different for different kinds of oral contraceptives, make sure to follow the instructions for your specific product.
  • Although oral contraceptives are quite effective when taken properly, taking them incorrectly increases your risk of unintentional pregnancy.
(For more information on how to take your specific oral contraceptive, see the information for your particular pill on

Drug Interactions

Oral contraceptives can interact with a number of other medications (see Oral Contraceptive Drug Interactions).

What If I Take an Overdose of Oral Contraceptives?

Women who take too much of an oral contraceptive may experience the following symptoms:
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Other menstrual irregularities.
(Click Birth Control Pill Overdose for more information.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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