1. Give pills
  • Give up to 1 year’s supply (13 packs) depending on the woman’s preference and planned use.
2. Explain pill pack
  • Show which kind of pack—21 pills or 28 pills. With 28-pill packs, point out that the last 7 pills are a different color and do not contain hormones (some brands may differ).

  • Show how to take the first pill from the pack and then how to follow the directions or arrows on the pack to take the rest of the pills.
3. Give key instruction Woman linking pill-taking with daily activity-such as brushing her teeth.

  • Take one pill each day—until the pack is empty.
  • Discuss cues for taking a pill every day. Linking pill-taking to a daily activity—such as cleaning her teeth—may help her remember.
  • Taking pills at the same time each day helps to remember them. It also may help reduce some side effects.
4. Explain starting next pack
  • 28-pill packs: When she finishes one pack, she should take the first pill from the next pack on the very next day.
  • 21-pill packs: After she takes the last pill from one pack, she should wait 7 days—no more—and then take the first pill from the next pack.
  • It is very important to start the next pack on time. Starting a pack late risks pregnancy.
5. Provide backup method and explain use
  • Sometimes she may need to use a backup method, such as when she misses pills.
  • Backup methods include abstinence, male or female condoms, spermicides, and withdrawal. Tell her that spermicides and withdrawal are the least effective contraceptive methods. Give her condoms, if possible.
  • If she misses 3 or more hormonal pills, she can consider ECPs.