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Signs to Know if a Birth Control Pill Is Working

By Jessica Anne Elizabeth ; Updated July 27, 2017

It is usually quite easy to tell if a birth control pill is working as it should--there is no pregnancy. However, a woman who has recently changed contraception methods, or is taking the pill for the first time, may be concerned that it is not working as it should. There are ways that a woman can determine if the birth control pill is working.

Has pregnancy occurred?

If the birth control pill is being used as a contraceptive, and the woman has been on it long enough for the contraceptive properties to become effective, and there has been no pregnancy, then the pill is working as it should.
If there is reason to suspect that pregnancy has occurred, the woman should consult her health care professional. He can take a blood test to determine if human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), the hormone secreted when a woman is pregnant, has risen.

Changes in menstrual cycle

No matter why the birth control pill is being taken, if the woman is taking the pill correctly, then there will be changes in her menstrual cycle. The flow will be lighter, cramps will not be as bad, and the duration of the cycle will be shorter. If the woman is taking the type of pill that causes a menstrual period to only occur one to three times a year, then the absence of a monthly period will alert the woman that it working.

Diminished symptoms

The pill can be prescribed for reasons other than contraception. If this is the case, and the symptoms for the condition that the pill is treating have subsided or disappeared, then the pill is working.
When the symptoms were unusually bad, or the presence of the condition was evident, signs of improvement should be readily apparent, which will let the woman know that the pill is working.


If symptoms have re-occurred, or have not disappeared at all, or if the condition has worsened, then the woman may have reason to suspect the pill is not working.
If the woman is taking the pill for contraceptive purposes, and she knows that she has missed more than three, or has failed to take them at all, then she cannot expect the pill to be working as it should. Of course, an unexpected pregnancy will definitely signify the pill is not working.


If a woman was prescribed the pill for contraceptive purposes, but she has noticed an improvement in other areas that she did not think could be connected, then this is a good sign that the pill is working. One significant area in which there may be improvement is in a woman who was underweight before going on the pill, and has now begun to gain weight, and the weight gain has led to an overall improvement in the woman’s general health. This can often occur when an underweight woman begins to take the pill, and it is usually a very positive thing.

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