First Are Birth Control Pills Really Safe
Women have become much savvier about artificial hormones since the Womens Health Initiative shed light on the risks of synthetic hormone replacement therapy . What many women dont realize is that the Pill has higher amounts of synthetic hormones than HRT up to twice as much, depending on the brand.
On balance, the Pill has a better safety record than many prescription drugs. But there are inherent risks with all drugs. While there is little data showing a connection between birth control pills and breast cancer risk, some women metabolize hormones differently. Risk of long-term use of birth control pills is unclear for these women. There may also be an increased risk of cervical and liver cancer. For some women over 35, the Pill may increase risk factors for blood clotting, cardiovascular disease, and liver, kidney or adrenal disease. It can also cause or worsen symptoms of hormonal imbalance: fluid retention, headaches, loss of sexual desire, breast tenderness, PMS, irregular bleeding, depression, and hair loss.
Many of the risks associated with the Pill have been linked to smoking, and other pre-existing conditions. It is important to always discuss the pros and cons of any prescription drug you are considering or taking with your healthcare practitioner, so you fully understand all the benefits and risks.
Some Methods Might Require A Pelvic Exam
Some birth control methods require a pelvic exam, including intrauterine devices . These are often prescribed to people with heavy or prolonged periods.
Pelvic exams can be traumatic for survivors of sexual abuse or trigger gender dysphoria in transgender men, so this may affect your decision when reviewing different methods and any associated prerequisites.
Some Methods May Require A Guardians Consent
We get that you might want to keep your birth control use on the down low and not get a parent or guardian involved. No judgement here.
You can access birth control in most states without a guardians consent, but that isnt the case with all healthcare professionals.
Before making an appointment, contact a local clinic or your healthcare professional to learn more about your states laws. What you talk about stays between you and them, thanks to confidentiality laws.
Just a heads up if youre covered by a guardians health insurance, its a good idea to call the insurance provider to ask if the services you access will show up on your guardians statement.
Your other option is to pay out of pocket or see if you can access low cost or free birth control pills in your area.
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Birth Control Can Make Your Period Irregular At First
Hormonal contraceptives like birth control pills and the hormonal intrauterine device work to prevent pregnancy by interfering with the natural fluctuation of hormones in your cycle that form eggs and ovarian follicles. This interference is what prevents you from getting pregnant.
Some hormonal contraceptives, like the hormonal IUD, also prevent pregnancy by thinning the lining of your uterus, known as the endometrium, so an egg cant attach to it.
A thin endometrium means your body doesnt need to shed it as often or at all, so your period may become much lighter or stop altogether, Zhang says.
Spotting or bleeding between periods can happen when you start using a new method of hormonal birth control, Zhang says. Plus, some people choose to use birth control in a way that suppresses their period entirely, like taking birth control pills continuously , which can also result in spotting until your body gets used to the new routine.
But if you have spotting or bleeding between periods that doesnt go away within a few months, or if theres a sudden change in your cycle, thats worth noting, Zhang says.
If youre on an IUD and you dont get your period, if all of a sudden you have heavy bleeding or have irregular bleeding, that is something to ask your doctor about, she says.
What Are Levonorgestrel And Ulipristal
Unlike the other pills, these arenât intended for regular birth control. Levonorgestrel and ulipristal acetate can greatly lower your chances of getting pregnant if you had unprotected sex or if youâre concerned that your usual birth control method didnât work.
Levonorgestrel is about 88% effective if you use it as directed. You need to take it as soon as possible within 3 days of having sex.
Ulipristal is about 60% to 70% effective if you use it correctly. You need to take it ASAP within 5 days of having sex.
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Whats Inside The Pill
There are two main types of contraceptive pills: combined oral contraceptives and so-called progestogen-only pills, or POPs . Both types contain synthetic analogs of female sex hormones. COCs have both synthetic estrogens and synthetic forms of progesterone , while the POPs contain progestogens alone.
Female sex hormones influence the body at different levels. Thats why, apart from preventing unintended pregnancy, birth control pills can treat hormonal imbalance or mitigate symptoms related to the menstrual cycle.
How Well Does The Pill Regimen Mimic The Normal Menstrual Cycle
The standard combined oral contraceptive consists of both hormones P and E, taken daily for three weeks, followed by a week of no pills that trigger whats known as breakthrough bleeding, induced by the drop in hormones. Although the outward appearance is the same the constant high levels of P and E for a woman taking the Pill actually abolish the normal hormonal cycling that underlies ovulation. The Pill therefore replaces the normal menstrual cycle with an artificial cycle . Historically, women have been pregnant or nursing much of their adult lives and thereby suppressing ovulation naturally, suggesting that halting menstruation is not inherently harmful. Yet, many women still wonder if it is safe to eliminate menstruation using oral contraceptives.
Amanda Nottke, Harvard Medical School
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How Can I Find The Right Solution For Me
Different women experience their periods differently, and the amount of menstrual blood they lose can vary naturally from month to month. But the amount of stress caused by heavy periods can only be determined by the woman herself: Whereas some women who have heavy periods may not think its a big problem, others already feel very uncomfortable with less heavy periods.
Its important to first have a doctor look for possible causes of the heavy periods. In most cases you can then take your time to decide whether to start treatment and consider which of the treatment options is right for you. If you’re not sure, it may be a good idea to get a second medical opinion especially if a hysterectomy has been recommended. Our decision aid may help here. It briefly summarizes the main pros and cons of the different treatments.
Recap: Your Period On Birth Control
We get it: Weâve been taught that getting your period is a natural sign of femininity and means that everything is working normally for having babies. But the truth is that having your period on birth control is not the same thing as natural menstruation. Instead, itâs a different beast altogether.
*Editorâs Note: If youâre having irregular periods or spotting and youâre NOT taking birth control, then you should follow up with your doctor.
You should know that:
Changes to your periods are typical when youâre taking birth control pills. Make sure youâre taking your pills as directed.
Unless you have other concerning symptoms, not having your period while taking the placebo birth control pills does not automatically mean youâre pregnant. However, you can check with your doctor if youâre unsure.
Once you stop using birth control, then your periods should go back to normal, and your chances of getting pregnant will return to normal.
As always, if you have bothersome irregular bleeding, donât hesitate to ask your doctor. There may be a way to change your method, or they can let you know if itâs something that will go away anytime soon. Itâs super helpful to track whatâs going so you can present that to your doctor. Believe us, they like data, so record the dates itâs happening and what it looks/feels like. Youâve got this!
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What Can I Do Myself
If heavy periods become such a problem that they interfere with your everyday life, then you can try taking things a little easier on those days. Some women find that relaxation techniques or yoga help them feel more relaxed and reduce stress. Getting a lot of exercise can also help.
Women with heavy periods are often advised to change their diet: For instance, certain fatty acids, vitamins or fibers are claimed to help. But making changes to your diet hasnt been proven to reduce heavy menstrual bleeding or the related problems. This is also true for sports, homeopathic products and .
Foods that are rich in iron can help to prevent anemia. Examples include meat, legumes, green leafy vegetables and wholegrain bread.
What Are Irregular Periods
Irregular periods are different from woman to woman however, they are generally accepted as those that diverge from what is considered normal for her, including those that are missing, longer, shorter, lighter, heavier, or painful.
Healthy menstrual cycles range from 21 and 35 days with 28 days being accepted as the average. Periods generally last for four to seven days of that cycle. Also, it is said that most women with a regular cycle have between 9 and 12 periods a year.1
Where there are many factors that influence periods, irregular periods are largely caused by hormonal imbalance and various disorders affecting the reproductive system, polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis being two of them.
We will soon see how contraception may also play a role.
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The Pill For Irregular Periods
I do think it would make sense to schedule a visit with your daughter’s physician or healthcare provider. It would be helpful to have her see her doctor to make sure that she is otherwise healthy. Things such as abnormal weight , stress, thyroid problems, or other hormonal problems can cause the periods to be irregular, but they usually cause other symptoms as well. If your daughter is otherwise well, it is extremely unlikely that there is an underlying problem causing the irregular periods. Her doctor can answer any questions or concerns, and help to educate your family about various aspects of the menstrual cycle.
As for your wife’s concern of a doctor’s visit being traumatic, I would point out that at this age an examination usually does not include a pelvic or internal examination. The doctor will do a general physical examination, and look at the breasts and vaginal area, but will not do a speculum or manual exam. That would only be done if there were some concern about an anatomical problem or an infection.
Please note: This “Expert Advice” area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.
If You Use The Pill Or The Ring You Dont Need Magic Powers To Control Your Menstrual Cycle
That weekend at the beach youve been looking forward to or the first day of school or a new job can be stressful times to have your period start, especially if your periods are painful. Wouldnt it be nice on days like those not to have to worry about pads, tampons, or pain killers? If you use the pill or the ring for birth control, you are in luckyou can skip periods as you please.
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How Birth Control Works
Birth control or the pill as its often referred to is a kind of medication with hormones that you take every day to prevent pregnancy . Heres how it works: you take one pill with hormones once a day, at the same time, for 21 days. Then sometime during days 21-28, you will have your period. Birth control is meant to be taken at the same time each day because this is what makes the pill the most effective.
In my case, I take my last pill on a Saturday, and usually I get my period between the Tuesday-Thursday of the following week. I begin taking my next pack the following Sunday, and usually my period is gone by Tuesday at the latest.
Some birth control pills come with sugar pills, taken from day 21-28. These pills dont do anything, theyre just meant to keep you on track and in the habit of taking a pill daily. Its also a helpful reminder to start a new pack. I personally dont like the sugar pills, so Ive opted for a birth control without sugar pills. Alternatively, if youre on a birth control with sugar pills, you dont have to take them completely up to you if you want to take them or not.
Birth Control Pills To Regulate Period And Acne
My doctor suggested to me that I start on birth control to regulate my menstrual cycle and also to help with my acne problem. I have gone to a dermatologist for four years and my face still breaks out. Do you think that I should try the birth control pill or would the side effects outweigh the benefits? I worry about the weight gain mostly.
Your decision about whether or not to take birth control pills is both a medical and a personal choice. It is important that you speak with a health care provider to voice your concerns and get all the facts. Yes, birth control pills can regulate periods, and some are effective in controlling acne. You may want to consider the following questions: What are the pros and cons of taking birth control pills? How long would you need to take the pill to get the desired effects? Could you try them out to see if you experience any positive or negative effect? Other factors to consider are your age, whether or not you are having sex, and whether or not you are a smoker.
Remember, you do not have to make a decision in a jiffy. Make sure that you communicate with your health care provider and get all the information you need in order to make a carefully caculated decision.
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You May Bleed A Few Days
If you stop taking a combination hormonal birth control pillwhich has both estrogen and progesteronesome tissue sheds off, which can cause a light bleed, Alyssa Dweck, MD, an ob-gyn and author of The Complete A to Z for Your V, tells Health. This is also why you get a fake” period on the Pill during the week you take the placebo pills, she explains. A withdrawal bleed, by definition, is progesterone being withdrawn and the bleeding that occurs, says Dr. Dweck. A withdrawal bleed is not technically, by definition, a period because it is not a result of ovulation. After your withdrawal bleed, you still have to wait for your real period to come.
Think that because youve been on birth control for 10 years its going to take forever to get your period back? That might not be the case: Generally, the side effects of the Pill and the impact on suppressing the hormone pathways are rapidly reversible, Samantha Kempner, MD, an ob-gyn and an assistant professor at the University of Michigan Medical School, tells Health. Even with long-term use of the combination birth control pill, most women can expect to resume normal periods quickly.
Still no period after three months? See your docthey may want to check for issues like a thyroid condition or hormonal imbalances that could be keeping your period MIA.