Your Health, Your Self

Welcome to The Simple Source, your go-to for reproductive health education. Because when you're better informed, you make better decisions about your health. Period.

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How does SimpleHealth work?

We’re on a mission to make getting a birth control prescription easier than ever before. Simply provide us with some information about yourself, your health history, and your birth control preferences. Then, a doctor who is licensed in your state will review your information and can write you a prescription for birth control. If you don’t know what method or brand you’d like, we can help you decide. Then, we’ll ship your prescription right to your door, and keep you stocked on refills. It’s a better way to get birth control—on your own time, right when you need it.

To learn more, check out our how it works page.

How effective are birth control pills? The patch? The ring?

When taken as prescribed by a doctor, birth control pills, the birth control patch, and the birth control ring are all over 99% effective. For the pill, this means taking your pill at the same time every day and not missing any pills; for the patch, this means replacing your patch at the same time each week; for the ring, this means inserting a new ring on the correct day each month.

In addition to following these guidelines, you also need to make sure you aren’t taking any medications that could interfere with your birth control’s efficacy. These medications include, but are not limited to: certain antibiotics (like Rifampin, Rifampicin, and Rifamate), certain antifungals (like Griseofulvin), some HIV medications, some anti-seizure and bipolar disorder medications, and the herb St John’s Wort.

If you take any of these medications, or if you’re unsure that you can follow the timing requirements of your prescription, your birth control may not be as effective. If you have questions or concerns about efficacy, we’re happy to discuss them with you.

Can I get pregnant during the placebo break?

As long as you’ve taken all the previous active pills correctly, you are still protected against pregnancy during the placebo break. Be sure to start your next pack as soon as your placebo pills run out, regardless of when your period starts or ends, to maintain pregnancy protection.

Can I use birth control to skip my periods?

If you want to use birth control to skip your periods, it's easy to do, but you should talk to your doctor ahead of time to make sure your prescription is written to account for the way you’ll be taking your pills (i.e. since you’ll be taking just the active pills, you’ll need more pill packs in a 12 month period than if you took them cyclically). It's also safe: there's no evidence that skipping periods causes any ill-effects, short or long-term.

  • If you take a combination pill, you can skip the placebo pills and begin taking the next pack right as soon as your active pills end.
  • If you use the ring, you can insert a new ring every three weeks and skip the ring-free week.
  • If you use the patch, you can apply a new patch every week, and skip the patch-free week.

You may experience mid-cycle spotting for the first cycle or so after starting to take birth control continuously. If you start to have mid-cycle spotting after months of continuous usage, you should take your placebo pills to give yourself a withdrawal bleed before skipping the active pills again.

Unfortunately, progestin-only pills work differently than other types of birth control, and you cannot use them to skip or control your periods.

If I want to stop taking birth control, what do I do? How soon after stopping does pregnancy prevention end?

You can stop taking your birth control pills or remove your patch or ring at any time, though we recommend consulting with a doctor first. Expect to have a period or some spotting after you stop taking your birth control. Some people prefer to stop their birth control at the end of their birth control cycle, so they don't have a period in the middle of their cycle.

As soon as you stop taking your pills or remove your patch or ring, it will be possible for you to get pregnant. However, some women experience a prolonged return to ovulatory cycles after long-term pill use. If your period does not return within 3 months of discontinuing the pill, and you are trying to conceive, make an appointment with your gynecologist or a fertility specialist.

Which birth control side effects require immediate medical attention?

Stop taking your birth control and see a doctor immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • Sudden back/jaw pain along with nausea, sweating, or trouble breathing
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Achy soreness in your leg
  • Trouble breathing
  • Severe pain in your belly or stomach
  • Sudden and severe headache
  • Headaches that are different, worse, or happening more frequently than usual
  • Aura (seeing flashing, zigzag lines
  • Yellowing of your skin or eyes

These symptoms could be signs of a serious problem and you should seek medical attention immediately.

My sex drive has plummeted since starting birth control. What can I do?

Though not everyone experiences it, a reduced sex drive can be a side effect of birth control. Sometimes your body needs time to adjust to the hormones and it may take up to 3 months for this to happen. If 3 or more months have passed and your reduced sex drive is bothering you, reach out to us so our doctors can discuss your options with you.

What should I do if I have mid-cycle (breakthrough) bleeding?

Even though the pill can eventually make your periods shorter, lighter, and less painful, some mid-cycle breakthrough bleeding (aka spotting) is normal. It it especially common if it’s your first few months on birth control or if you’re taking the progestin-only pill.

The longer and more regularly you take your birth control, the less mid-cycle bleeding you’ll experience. If you don’t take your pill regularly or if you switch your patch or ring irregularly (not at the scheduled time or on the scheduled day), you’re more likely to have mid-cycle bleeding.

Mid-cycle bleeding is also common for people who skip the placebo pills in order to skip periods because your body needs time to adjust to the new cycle. Expect to see some spotting during the first three months.

You can read more about mid-cycle bleeding on our blog.

If you ever experience extremely heavy bleeding, whether its during your period or mid-cycle, you should visit a doctor right away. Extremely heavy bleeding means you are soaking through a tampon or pad every hour for 2-3 hours in a row. If your bleeding isn’t this heavy but you’re also feeling dizzy or lightheaded, you should still see a doctor right away.

What is ella?

ella, or ulipristal, is an emergency contraceptive used for prevention of pregnancy following unprotected intercourse or a known or suspected contraceptive failure. This medication affects how progesterone works in the body and is thought to delay or prevent ovulation. It can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex with no decrease in effectiveness. When taken as directed, ella is more effective in preventing pregnancy than other emergency contraception pills (progestin-only or combined EC pills). ella is available by prescription only. It is not intended for routine use as a contraceptive and will not terminate an existing pregnancy.

For more information you can also check out the ella website.

I have more questions!

If you have more questions that we haven't answered here, please check out our FAQs page for more.

Birth control, delivered to your door

Starts at $15 per month. Any brand of the pill, patch, or ring, shipped right when you need it.