How long does it take for contraception to start working?

When you start a new hormonal contraceptive, you might not be protected against pregnancy straight away. You might need to use extra protection, like condoms, for a few days before your main contraception starts to work. It depends on when you start it and what kind of contraceptive you’re using.

Combined pill 

  • protects you straight away if you start taking it in the first 5 days of your period

  • use condoms for the first 7 days if you start taking the pill at any other time in your menstrual cycle

Progestogen only pill 

  • works straight away if you start taking it on the first day of your period

  • use condoms for the first 2 days (48 hours) if you start taking the pill at any other time in your cycle

Contraceptive patch 

  • works straight away if you start using it in the first 5 days of your period 

  • use condoms for the first 7 days if you start the patch at any other time in your menstrual cycle

Contraceptive ring

  • works straight away if you put it in during the first 5 days of your period

  • use condoms for the first 7 days if you insert the ring at any other time in your menstrual cycle 

Sayana Press injectable 

  • works straight away if you have it during the first 5 days of your period

  • use condoms to prevent pregnancy for the first 7 days if you get the injection at any other time in your menstrual cycle.

Contraceptive implant

  • takes 7 days to start working after it’s fitted. You need to avoid sex or use condoms during this time.

The hormonal coil (IUS) 

  • takes 7 days to start working after it’s fitted. You need to avoid sex or use condoms for this time.

The non hormonal copper coil (IUD)

  • works straight away.


Helen Burkitt, Senior Sexual Health Nurse at SH:24
Written by Helen Burkitt. Senior Sexual Health and Contraception Nurse

Last updated at: 04 April 2022