Birth control medication usually comes with information on the packaging advising you to start taking it the day your period begins. But many women are still asking if can you start birth control before your period.

The answer to that is yes, you can start taking birth control medication before your period starts. Now some of you will say if that’s true, then why do the pharmaceutical manufacturers suggest starting the medication on the same day your menstrual period begins?

The reasons for that are quite straightforward. First, your period starting is a very reliable indication that you’re not pregnant. You’re starting to take birth control medication with nothing that might suggest it wasn’t effective. Next, if you start taking your first pill in sync with your period starting it keeps your cycle on a similar schedule.

But again, to answer the question of can you start birth control before your period specifically – yes, you can. But there’s more to knowing when to take your first birth control pill. In particular, it’s important to know that you shouldn’t delay taking your first pill anything longer than a few days after your cycle starts and definitely before your reach the mid part of you cycle.

We’ll discuss that in greater detail below.

Other Helpful Information About Starting Birth Control

Starting to take the medication right with the onset of your period is preferable because you’re protected from pregnancy immediately. Ovulation will be prevented right from the first month of you taking the pill. If you start taking the pill on the day your period stops, your chances of becoming pregnant are as low as possible.

Alternately, if you start taking the pills mid-cycle then you would have to use a separate birth control method for the first 7 days. Keep in mind as well that there is a bit of a hormonal adjustment period when you start taking birth control medication, but yes – you can start birth control before your period or after it has begun.

It’s also best to start taking the pill soon after you finish with the menstrual flow because this is when your body’s natural estrogen levels are at their highest, and this means an easier transition to the permanently elevated estrogen levels that birth control pills create.

You don’t have to start birth control with the start of your period, but the consensus is that it is best to do so.

Sunday Start

The other standard recommendation is to start taking your medication on the first Sunday after the last day of your menstrual cycle. The appeal of this is that it provides a useful point-in-time for when a new pill pack should begin and also ensures that you don’t have a period on a weekend. (unless you are taking continuous oral contraceptives)

There are also other considerations based on whether you are using combination estrogen / progestin pills or progestin-only pills. For combo pills, if you start taking them within the first 5 days of the start of your period then protection begins right away. For progestin-only pills protection begins in 48 hours from then, and independent of where you are in your menstrual cycle.

Another consideration for oral contraceptives is that you must take your pill at the same time everyday. This helps maintain steady hormone levels, and it’s important that you don’t miss a day. If you, take 2 pills the following day. If you forget to take your medication twice in a row, take 2 pills a day for 2 days. Any more than that and you should start using a separate form of birth control until you start into another pill pack.

Can you start birth control before your period? You can, but it’s not as advisable as starting to take it at the onset or within the first half of your menstrual cycle. Try to plan your use of the medication and your sexual activity accordingly so that you can start your course of medication.