How Does Birth Control Affect Your Period?

Menstrual tampons on menstruation period calendar with blue alarm clock and white flowers. Waiting for period to come on birth control.

Most women will use some form of birth control during their lifetime. Many types of birth control use progestin and estrogen hormones to prevent ovulation and implantation. These hormones affect the uterine lining and can lead to some spotting in-between periods, but overall, they reduce your menstrual bleeding. Periods can be longer, shorter, heavier, or lighter, depending on the method of birth control you use.

Is Your Period on Birth Control a “Real” Period?

During a natural menstrual cycle, your period happens because your uterus is shedding its inner lining. The body’s natural process is to thicken your uterine lining in anticipation of fertilizing an egg. When your body realizes no fertilization is happening, it sheds that lining.

A period while taking birth control is called a “withdrawal period,” not because your body is shedding the uterine lining but because your body is going through hormone withdrawal.

Here are a few types of birth control and how they will affect your period.

The Pill

Your body’s response to the birth control pill will depend on what kind of pill you take. If you’re taking a combination pill (estrogen and progestin), you can have a period each month during the placebo week of your pack. You can also safely skip your period on the birth control pill if you don’t want to have any withdrawal bleeding.

If you take a progestin-only birth control pill, you may have irregular periods. They may be lighter or stop altogether, and you may get spotting between periods.

Arm Implant or IUD

With an arm implant, your menstrual bleeding may be longer or shorter, or you may not even have a period. With an IUD, most women have reduced menstrual bleeding and may not get their period at all after some time.

Vaginal Ring

The vaginal ring was designed to be in place for three weeks and then removed for one week. It’s during the week without the ring that you expect to get your period. The makers of the ring designed it so you could have a menstrual bleed.

Birth Control Patch

The birth control patch is designed to be applied once a week for three weeks and then removed for seven days. It’s in that fourth week that you’d expect a menstrual period.

Periods on birth control are anything but normal. No matter what form of birth control you use, you are guaranteed to have changes to your menstrual periods. At South Avenue Women’s Services, we work with our patients to determine what form of birth control is best for them and their bodies. We proudly serve women throughout Rochester and the entire western N.Y. area.

For more information on birth control options or other services we offer, call us today at (585)271-3850!