The use of birth control pills is an extremely efficient prevention method for pregnancy, and it also provides a solution to many other problems, like producing better acne control and improving symptoms of cyclical mood disorders. Generally, the pill produces a range of hormones in the body which prevent ovulation, thicken cervical mucus to make it harder for the sperm to fertilize the egg, and thin the lining of the uterus thus not allowing the egg to implant into it. Notwithstanding, you may experience period like bleeding while on birth control, but why it happens?

Can You Get Period on Birth Control?

The pill type determines if you get a period while on birth control. With most contraceptive pills, you won’t have a real period due to ovulation suppression. Yet, when taking the combined oral contraceptive pill with progesterone and estrogen, period like bleeding is a normal occurrence. These pills are mostly taken three weeks with a one week break. During the break, you will most likely observe bleeding which is normal and it isn’t an indication that the pill hasn’t work or is ineffective.

Why Does Breakthrough Bleeding Happen?

Several causes of spotting while using birth control include:

  • Just like using any other pill, it takes time for your body to adapt which can lead to bleeding between periods due to the hormone disruption. Panty liners can be used because this form of bleeding is milder. It is important to know it’s not dangerous and will go away after a few months. However, if this state lasts more than 3 months or the bleeding is heavy in nature, an alternate pill or form of contraception may be needed.

  • Undisciplined taking of the pill and forgetting certain days can lead to irregular bleeding during the period while on birth control.

  • Smokers have a higher incidence of breakthrough bleeding due to the fact that cigarettes disrupt the cycle because they have anti estrogenic effects.

  • Older generations of pills are less effective when compared to the more modern pills.

Other causes, which are not associated with the pill itself, should be also kept in mind. These include:

  • Some drugs can interact and decrease the effectiveness of the pill. Consult your doctor about the compatibility of the medication with your contraception.

  • Sexually transmitted diseases can cause intermittent bleeding between periods. Keep in mind that the pill does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

  • Cancer or other gynecological problems can be the cause of bleeding. Therefore, if the doctor is certain that the pill is not the cause, then he may order a Pap test to identify the presence of cervical cancer or pathological changes.

When Should You Be Concerned?

Recording how much blood is being lost is helpful if you are no sure about the actual cause of bleeding. The number of pads used in an hour or day can be essential. During the first three months of using the pill, blood loss will be in the form of spotting which can be controlled by panty liners during the period while on birth control. On the other hand, acute large amounts or chronic moderate amount of bleeding could be a warning sign of a more serious underlying condition. Medical assistance should be sought if the following are experienced:

  • Lower abdomen pain

  • Unexpected heavy bleeding

  • Frequency or severity of symptoms are increased

  • Fever

How to Decrease Bleeding During the Birth Control Pill

The problem will go away on its own especially if you have recently started to use the pill. The other option is to take a pill with higher concentrations of active ingredients or use another contraceptive device.

When taking, be disciplined in adhering to a schedule and take it at the same time each day. You can set an alarm so that you won't forget. Dummy pills are available in some packs, so you will always take the pill. However, the alternate contraceptive could be a more suitable choice if you find yourself consistently forgetting.

In this day and age, the market offers many different types of birth control methods and pills. So a consultation with your doctor will help make the correct and best decision of contraception that will provide you safety and peace of mind without worrying about the period while on birth control.


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