Reasons For A Missed Period After Stopping Birth Control
A missed period after getting off the pill can be expected as your cycle regulates itself again. But how many is too many? Here are a few reasons why you may not be getting your period on the regs quite yet.
Birth control pills are widely touted as the answer to a pesky irregular cycle. Once you start taking them, voilathings even out and you get your period as soon as those placebos start each month. Doctors sometimes prescribe birth control pills as a way to balance hormones and kick-start your body into a more predictable cycle. What’s more, some studies indicate they can actually boost your fertility, partly because they can decrease your odds of fertility-inhibiting conditions like endometriosis.
But while those same studies indicate that normal fertility can return immediately after stopping birth control, what happens when that’s not the case? We asked experts to weigh in on how birth control pills can affect your monthly cycle and explain the reasons why you might miss periods once you stop taking it.
Should I Worry About Pregnancy If I Didn’t Get A Period On The Placebo Week
If youre on birth control and not getting your period during your placebo week, theres no need to worry, especially if you know youve been taking your pill every day. Its normal for your period to be lighter and shorter than usual, especially if youve been on birth control for a while. About 10-20% of people experience very light or no period after their sixth pill pack, while 10% of people do not experience any withdrawal bleed. Take a pregnancy test if youve missed your period and are experiencing symptoms of pregnancy, such as morning sickness or breast soreness.
If youre on the progestin-only minipill, know that only 50% of minipill users experience regular menstruation, so expect the unexpected when it comes to your period.
Possible Reasons For Missed Withdrawal Bleeding On Birth Control
Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology Barbara Levy explains why people can sometimes experience no withdrawal bleeding on their pill break:
- When taking combined hormonal birth control, especially with the lower estrogen formulations, the lining of the uterus becomes very thin. For some people, the lining is thin enough that there isn’t anything built up during the month to shed during the placebo week. And regular withdrawal bleeding does rely on enough lining growth to shed. As the doses of estrogen in the pills have gotten lower and lower over the years, there are more people who experience irregular or no withdrawal bleeding.
- In the case of the progesterone-only pill, the growth of the uterine lining requires estrogen priming estrogen alone before progesterone is secreted after ovulation. And the role of progesterone is to maintain this growth. With progesterone-only pills, the progesterone is present throughout the month, which suppresses growth of the lining. Sometimes the lining becomes so thin that there isn’t any tissue there to shed. And thats why you can experience no withdrawal bleeding when you use this type of contraception.
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What Happens When You Stop Taking Birth Control
When you go off hormonal birth control, you might feel or notice some changes in your body but those arent side effects as we typically think of them. Rather, your body and reproductive system are transitioning back to their pre-birth control state.
Dr. Jane van Dis, MD, FACOG, OB-GYN and member of our medical advisory board, explains: “If you’re going off birth control, expect that some of those experiences and side effects you had before you went on will come back.” Some of these changes like weight gain or weight loss while on birth control can especially affect your menstrual cycle after stopping.
The post-BC changes youll experience vary from person to person, but heres some of what you might expect after stopping birth control:
1.The adjustment period: For most people who quit taking birth control with estrogen and progestin , your ovaries and menstrual cycle will return to normal within 90 days whatever that looked like for you before starting birth control.
The length of time youve spent on birth control will not affect this 90-day time frame, Dr. van Dis explains, since most of the medications clear from your system in 48 hours.
5. Mood swings and depression: Since birth control pills can be associated with changes in mood for some people, stopping BC can result in mood swings, and increased or decreased feelings of depression.
Tests To Have Done If Your Period Has Gone Missing After The Pill
The symptoms of Post-Birth Control Syndrome arise from the many ways in which the pill affects your bodysuppressing natural hormones, depleting nutrients, and disruption of the microbiome are only a handful of side effects. The following tests should be completed in any woman who has stopped the pill for 3 months or more and has not experienced a regular cycle.
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Your Acne Could Return
A lot of people take birth control pills to ease acne, but unfortunately once you stop taking them, the acne could return. Going off birth control pills may return acne symptoms to what they were before starting , Dr. Bhardwaj previously told Health. If you’re worried about hormonal acne, talk to your dermatologist about alternatives, one as simple as switching your skincare products.
Is It Normal To Have Late Periods After Stopping Birth Control
According to the NHS, it is normal to have late or irregular periods after stopping hormonal birth control. It can take several weeks, or sometimes months, for periods to resume as normal. Some doctors call this post pill amenorrhea.
After a person stops using hormonal birth control, two factors other than pregnancy can cause late periods. They are:
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How Do You Transition Off Of Birth Control
You can stop taking the pill safely at any point in your cycle, though it can be helpful to finish a pack so you can predict your next ovulation or period if youre looking to plan or prevent pregnancy. As for an IUD, it can also be removed at any point by your healthcare provider, though removing it during your period when the cervix is naturally softer could be a bit easier.
Your body is really resilient once you stop taking the pill or remove the patch or an IUD, youll likely get back to normal fast. Cue the sighs of relief. As we mentioned earlier, the majority of former birth control users will resume their pre-BC cycles within three months and conceive within 12 months of trying to get pregnant.
- Ex-oral contraceptive users: 87.04% pregnant within 12 months
- Ex-hormonal IUD users: 84.75% pregnant within 12 months
- Ex-injection users: 77.4% pregnant within 12 months
- Ex-implant users: 74.7% pregnant within 12 months
How To Keep Track Of Your Menstrual Cycle
You can use a menstrual tracker like Flo to keep track of your cycle. Period tracking apps let you log your symptoms and determine when you should expect your period. This can also take some weight off your mind, since you wont have to remember when your period is due to arrive. The app will do it for you!
Overall, as long as youre taking it correctly, birth control is highly effective at preventing pregnancy and those missed periods can happen now and again.
If youre not sure, take a pregnancy test to ease your mind. Adding some relaxing activities to your life and staying healthy can help get your cycle back to normal.
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Trying To Conceive: Irregular Periods After Birth Control
Oh Dear! Amy I have a dilemma and I honestly have no one to turn to
I went on the pill when i was 17, switched to a different pill, and then a different blaming weight gain and other things on the pill. Then I changed to the ring which I neither loved, nor hated Other than the fact that I absolutely hated being on birth control full stop. It changed my sex drive- and above all, my husband and I really want a baby.
Getting back to it, I accidentally took the Ring out a week early, on October 31st-I then had a full normal period on November 6th. I went for this full month without replacing the b/c and had the following period on December 14th. It was late and I thought I could be pregnant But at the same time, Im not really sure how normal my periods are, or how far apart they would be.
I then picked up and moved with my husband to his home in Europe. Surprisingly all of my stress went away-as Im generally some control freak with money-moving-unsettling-no jobs-eeeek! But, I have taken this time as a great break while we get our sh*t together Being off of the b/c allowed us to have a normal sex life, yay! But thenmy period didnt come. We were full sure that I was pregnant, and completely upset when I tested on the 22nd of January, again on the 26th and finally on the 4th of February.
Please tell me that its okay
When To Stop Taking Birth Control Pills
Its safe to stop taking the pill at any time. However, you might want to talk to your medical provider to learn about the potential side effects, especially if you started taking the pill for non-contraceptive purposes, such as irregular periods or PMS symptoms.
Some healthcare providers recommend finishing your last pack of pills to keep your menstrual cycle more predictable and hopefully avoid irregular bleeding. Stopping mid-pack is still safe, though, especially if you already know what to expect in terms of post-pill symptoms.
Theres no way to predict exactly which of these symptoms youll have when going off birth control. The experience can be different for each person. Make a decision based on whats right for your needs, and get in touch with your medical provider if you have any worrisome symptoms.
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Can You Get Pregnant Right After Stopping The Pill
As weve already discussed it can take up to 3 months for your body to get back to its normal cycle. But this doesnt mean you wont get pregnant in those first 3 months if you dont use another form of contraception.
Dont forget that clinicians advise you use condoms when having sex if:
- you miss 2 or more consecutive combined pills
- you miss a mini pill and youre outside of your window .
This shows us just how quickly you might be able to get pregnant.
So, if you stop taking your pill and you dont want to get pregnant, please remember to use condoms or another form of contraception.
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.
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Delayed Return To Ovulation
Hormonal birth control methods, such as pills, implants, intrauterine devices , and injections, work to prevent pregnancy in several ways. One of the ways they work is by making ovulation less likely. Ovulation is the release of an egg from the ovaries.
When a person is not using hormonal contraception, ovulation typically happens once per menstrual cycle. If a sperm does not fertilize the egg, shifts in hormone levels trigger a period.
Because people using hormonal birth control typically do not ovulate, it may take time for regular ovulation to return. Until this happens, a person may have no periods at all.
How Long After Stopping The Pill Will I Ovulate
After stopping the pill, you could ovulate as soon as 48 hours later. Most women wont have a period for 2-4 weeks after stopping, but you could still get pregnant in this time.
As the first period after stopping the pill is a withdrawal bleed and its not until the second that you have a natural period, the NHS advises not trying to get pregnant until after this period. This is to allow your body time to get back to its natural cycle. Plus, it gives you time to make lifestyle changes to get your body in the best physical condition for pregnancy. This might include taking folic acid supplements, quitting smoking, eating a more balanced diet, and cutting down on alcohol.
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Is It Normal To Not Be Having A Period During The Placebo Week
Menstruation is triggered by a drop in the hormones estrogen and progesterone, both of which are artificially produced by the pill. This means that menstruating on the pill isnt a real period so much as it is withdrawal bleeding produced by a lack of artificial hormones. Your period is not a medically necessary process. Its just your bodys way of telling you that youre not pregnant. This is why its totally safe to use birth control to skip your period entirely, either by using extended-cycle birth control pills that allow for four periods a year, or by skipping the placebo week of your 21 or 28 day pack. Its also normal to experience breakthrough bleeding outside of your placebo weekin fact, 1 in 5 women will experience this when starting a new pill. That being said, this breakthrough bleeding should stop after 3 months of pill use. If it continues, contact your doctor.