How soon after starting Birth Control am I protected

Patient

Q: I just started on ortho tricyclen lo, and was on day 6 of my first pack. I had sex about 11:30 pm and I usually take the pill at about 6:30 am. My boyfriend and I didn't use a condom, but we had to stop and he wasn't that close to coming. But we did have condom-protected sex about an hour before the unprotected, where he did come, so there could still be sperm in his pre-cum. Am I protected by the pill even though technically I didn't wait 7 days, but was just about 6 hours away from my 7th pill?

Doctor

A:   According to the monograph of most birth control pills,  protection from pregnancy can start as soon as seven days after taking the birth control pill assuming it was taken daily and the same time every day.  However, from a practical stand point, it is safer to assume that full protection will not begin till one full pack is completed.
This is why I often advice women in my practice to use a back up method of birth control during the first month of starting the pill.
If your cycle does not arrive, please do a pregnancy test.

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