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The Birth Control Pill – Q & A

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Reproductive System related image Photo: Getty Images

For some, the birth control pill can arguably be said to be the best thing since modern medicine. As women, many of us would probably agree. Used since the early 1960’s, questions still linger as to the safety. Below are some common questions and answers about the infamous birth control pill.

What’s the difference between birth control pills that eliminate all of your monthly periods from the traditional birth control pills?

Traditional birth control pills allow you to have a cycle. In fact, this type of pill controls your cycle to mimic a regular 28-day cycle. First, you take 21 days of active pills and then seven days of a placebo, during which time you will experience vaginal bleeding.

On the other hand, when using the extended birth control pills, you take the hormones for much longer. Some pills, such as Lybrel, are meant to suppress all bleeding. This pill is taken nonstop. But with other extended birth control pills like Seasonale and Seasonique, you may take them continuously for a three month period, but then afterward, either a placebo or low-dose estrogen is taken.

So why can’t you just take regular birth control pills continuously to stop your period?

Basically, you can, but it is strongly suggested that there should be a break from the hormones after three months. During the “break,” you would use the seven-day placebo, afterward resuming the birth controls pill if desired. Some find that if they have something important planned that this may be a good alternative.

I’ve stopped taking the pill, but my cycle has not started back yet. What do I do?

This may be normal. In general, regular menstruation should start about three months after stopping the pill. It takes awhile for some so there may be no cause for alarm. But if you don’t have a cycle within the first three months, the Mayo Clinic recommends taking a pregnancy test first. And after six months without a period, you will need to see your doctor.

Do birth control pills make you gain weight?

It is a very popular opinion that the pill makes you gain weight. But according to the Mayo Clinic, studies showed that weight gain is very small, if any at all.

Add a Comment6 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I am a 31 year old, been on the pill for almost 5 years. I am a week in a half away from having my period and I get heavy breakthrough bleeding now for a few days. Haven't had breakthrough bleeding for years. And I did't miss a pill or change the way I take them.Any ideas on what could be wrong? Do I need to get in to see a dr?

January 28, 2011 - 8:22pm
HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Anon - It would be a good idea to see your gynecologist. You may find another type of pill, or pill dosage, will solve the breakthrough issue, but you need to work with your doctor to determine exactly what is causing the breakthrough bleeding and how this can be resolved. Our bodies change with time, so there's no need to be worried, but you do need to have professional help with this. Take care.

January 30, 2011 - 1:28pm
EmpowHER Guest

SO I ended up going and getting morning after pill on Monday. What are my chances of getting pregnant?

January 25, 2011 - 8:57pm
HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

The following article provides information on how emergency contraceptives work: http://www.empowher.com/sex-amp-relationships/content/emergency-contraception-update-2011

January 26, 2011 - 5:28pm
EmpowHER Guest

Hi my name is Anna. I have the birth control with 21 active pills then the 7 inactive pills. I missed my pills on fri n sat. On sun which is today started my inactive pill. I took fri,sat,sun pill all together. My boyfriend did ejeculate in me on fri. However I started my period today on my first inactive pill. Should I worry? Should I go get morning after?

January 24, 2011 - 12:34am
(reply to Anonymous)

If you missed your pill on Friday then you were NOT protected on Friday. It is up to you to take the morning after pill but keep in mind that it must be within 72 hours of having unprotected sex.

Also, when you miss a pill you can double up the next day but tripling up won't make a difference in effectiveness and is actually not recommended (due to clotting factors with the pill).

Hope this helps!

January 24, 2011 - 6:58am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.