How do birth control pills work?
There are different types of birth control pills. Long story short, all types of hormonal birth control work by inhibiting your ovulation. If your ovaries don’t release an egg each month, you are safe from pregnancy.
Birth control pills contain estrogen and progesterone - although the mini pill only contains progesterone. These hormones work together to inhibit your natural menstrual cycle and stop ovulation.
You will usually take the active pills for 21 days and then take placebo pills or no pills for 7 days. You should get your period during these 7 days, but you’ll still be protected from unwanted pregnancies. There is also an option of taking 24 active pills and 4 placebo pill, which is nowadays considered more physiologic. In the case of the mini pill, you take them for 28 days straight and then start your next packet without resting.
Birth control also prevents pregnancy by thickening your cervical mucus, which makes it harder for sperm to swim up your uterus. It also makes your endometrial lining become thinner. This means that even if an egg is released and gets fertilized, it won’t have anywhere to implant inside your uterus.
Does birth control stop periods?
Technically speaking, yes. The bleeding that you get when you’re on birth control isn’t really a period. Your body doesn’t ovulate or go through a regular menstrual cycle when you’re taking oral contraceptives. Instead, what you perceive as a period on birth control is really a withdrawal bleeding.
This bleeding occurs as a response to your body not receiving these hormones during the rest week at the end of your 21-day packet. That means that if you continue taking the pill uninterruptedly, you can actually choose to safely skip periods with birth control. And even if you do take your 7-day break, some factors can make it so that you still miss your period.
When do you get your period on birth control pills?
Once you’ve started your 7-day break from the pill each month, you’ll usually start to bleed 2 to 4 days into the pill-free week. This varies for each woman, but birth control tends to regularize your cycle. That means that after a few months on the pill, you’ll find that your “period” usually starts on the same day of that week each month.
So, you’ll probably be getting your period every 28 days. But even after your body has gotten used to the pill, you can still experience late periods on birth control. If it’s only a few days, there’s nothing to worry about.
Keep in mind that your birth control only works effectively if you take it correctly. If you’ve forgotten to take 3 or more pills, you could experience withdrawal bleeding before your 7-day break is scheduled. This would mean that you are no longer protected for the month and need to start a new packet.
Does missing a period mean pregnancy?
If you’ve been taking your pills according to the manufacturer’s instructions, you are 99.7% safe from pregnancy - even if you’ve missed your period. Their efficacy depends on you taking the pill each day, at approximately the same time.
There are different reasons that can cause a missed period on the pill. However, you should always remember that no birth control method is 100% effective. So if you’ve had no period on birth control, you can always take a pregnancy test. If it comes back negative, it will also reduce your stress and help your cycle get back to normal.
However, if you’ve missed 3 pills or more, your chances of ovulating will increase. If you don’t experience any bleeding for a few days after missing the pills, you should take a pregnancy test to ensure that your birth control didn’t fail. You should also take a pregnancy test if you miss 2 periods in a row while on birth control.
Menstrual irregularity is a cause for alarm
Track your monthly cycle with Flo to easily recognize when something is amiss.
5 reasons for missed period on birth control
Your body reacts in many different ways to a lot of situations. Hormones can fluctuate for many reasons, and these fluctuations could cause a missed period on the pill. These are some of the most common reasons for a missed period on birth control.
Stress can really do a number on your hormones. It increases your levels of cortisol - which is also called “the stress hormone -. It also affects your hypothalamus, which is a gland that controls many hormonal functions in your body. This can cause a hormonal imbalance during your cycle.
Stress can also create a vicious cycle when it comes to missed periods. If you’re worried about your missed period, your hormone levels fluctuate, which makes it less likely that you’ll get your period. That’s why many doctors recommend taking a pregnancy test – urine or blood – to regain your peace of mind.
Any situation that causes stress can make you miss a period on the pill. Finals, the death or illness of a loved one, moving across the country, or even travelling can cause a missed period.
Prolonged use of birth control
One of the effects that birth control has on your body is the thinning of your uterine lining. This is the endometrium, which sheds every month during your period and causes bleeding.
Because the pill makes your endometrium thinner, extended use of your birth control can eventually cause a missed period - even if you take your 7-day break. This happens because your endometrium becomes too thin to generate any bleeding, and it’s fairly common and normal to skip a period for this reason.
Going on an extremely restricted diet can cause a missed period on the pill. Restricting your caloric intake too much can cause hormonal imbalance, since your body won’t be getting the nutrients it needs to produce hormones properly. Women who suffer from eating disorders are especially prone to this, but going on a crash diet can also affect your cycle
Did you know that sexual hormones come from cholesterol? Yes! So, it makes sense that having an abnormally low body fat percentage can wreak havoc on your hormones. Women who are either overweight or underweight can experience a myriad of hormonal issues. And if you lose a significant amount of weight quickly, your body may not be receiving enough calories to have a period.
Even for women who are not on birth control, excessive exercise can cause a missed period. This is because exercise can disrupt your hormonal levels and your menstrual cycle. High-performance athletes tend to suffer from amenorrhea and miss periods continuously, but even recreational athletes can experience this disruption.
Is it safe to skip periods with birth control?
Doctors and patients have been using birth control to stop periods for a long time. Some women choose to do it only for special occasions - maybe you expect your period right on your wedding date or honeymoon and would like to avoid it. Other women, however, use birth control to stop periods if they suffer from conditions such as endometriosis or period-related anemia.
If you’re interested in stopping periods with birth control, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor about it. Fortunately, scientific research has found that using birth control to skip your period is as safe as taking your pills normally.
No period after stopping birth control - what is it about?
If you’ve decided to stop taking the pill, it can take a while for your cycle to return to normal. This varies from woman to woman. Some women go back to their regular menstrual cycle in a matter of days, while others need several months to have regular periods.
Allow your body up to 3 months to go back to normal after stopping your birth control. If your cycles remain irregular after this period, go to your doctor to find out the reason for your irregular cycles.
How to keep track of your menstrual cycle?
You can use a menstrual tracker like Flo to keep track of your cycle. Menstrual calendar apps allow you to log your symptoms and determine when you should expect your period. This can also take some weight off your mind, since you won’t have to remember when your period should come - the app will do it for you!
Overall, you’re more than likely safe from pregnancy as long as you’ve been taking your birth control correctly. A missed period on birth control can be caused by many different factors. Take a pregnancy test and if it is negative – try to ease your mind, do some relaxing activities, and stay healthy to help your cycle get back to normal!