How to switch contraceptive methods

How to switch contraceptive methods

Overtime, you might realize that you want to try a different contraceptive method because it doesn’t fit your lifestyle anymore, or for any other reason. It’s completely safe to switch methods, as long as you’ve talked to your doctor about it first. But there are different ways to start a new method, depending on what you’re currently using and what you’d like to use next. Here’s a short guide on what to do when switching to a new contraceptive method.

No Gap Method

The best way to prevent pregnancy is to do the No Gap Method.

That means switching from one method to the next, without gaps. No need to wait for your period before stopping the old method or starting with a new one.

Overlap Method

Some cases would require the Overlap Method. Here, you need to start the new method even before ending the old method. This way, the new method is given ample time to start working before the old method ends.

The chart below will provide more information.

Back-Up Method

If you don’t want to do the Overlap Method, you can do the Back-Up Method instead. You will need condoms to do this. And if you don’t want to do the Back-Up Method, you have to avoid having sex for at least seven days to stay safe from pregnancy.

Take a look at the chart below for guidance.

What to expect

When switching methods, your body will adjust to the new contraceptive. It’s common to experience things such as headaches, nausea, and light abdominal cramping. These will go away in a few days or weeks with continued use of your new method.

You may also experience spotting and irregular periods for the first 3-5 months. Again, these will subside and return to normal with continued and correct use of your new method.


Reproductive Health Access Project. (June 2021). How to Switch Birth Control Methods. https://www.reproductiveaccess.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/switching_bc.pdf 

Am Fam Physician. (March 1, 2011). How to Switch Birth Control Methods. American Family Physician. https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2011/0301/p575.html 

Benisek, A. (August 26, 2022). IUD vs. Birth Control Pills: What to Consider. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/birth-control-pills-vs-iud 

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