With many birth control methods to choose from, you may be tempted to change your method from one month to the next. But if you do, you need to be aware of how your birth control could affect your periods.
This birth control requires you to track your menstrual cycle to predict the days each month when you are fertile and most likely to get pregnant. This natural method does not affect your periods. (1)
This includes contraceptive sponges, diaphragms, cervical caps and both male and female condoms. All of these devices block sperm from entering the cervix and reaching the egg.
To be most effective, barrier methods should be used with spermicide to kill sperm. This method does not affect your periods.(1)
Hormones are chemical messengers that carry instructions from the brain to other parts of the body. The “female” hormones estrogen and progesterone work together with other hormones to regulate your cycle each month.
Hormonal birth control methods use the normal function of these hormones to deliberately change your body’s natural cycle.(1,2)
Hormonal birth control includes oral contraceptives often called “the pill,” skin patches, injections, vaginal rings and some types of implanted devices.
There are many variations between hormonal birth control methods and between different brands of birth control that can have different effects on your period.
For example, some birth control pills are available in packages of 24 hormone tablets with four placebo or “sugar pill” tablets. This type of pill can regulate your period. The hormone pills block your period. When you take the placebo pills, your period will begin.
Another type of BCPs are extended-cycle pills, which can prevent your period for long stretches of time, depending on the design of the pill packets.
Three-month packets use higher-dose hormones to block your period for three months, followed by a week of lower-dose hormones that allow you to have a period. Other options include taking higher-level hormones every day to block your period for a year.
BCPs can give you more control over when your periods happen. Extended-cycle pills can help you avoid your period during important events such as a planned vacation.
But even with extended-cycle pills, it can take several months for your hormones to level out. You may experience some bleeding or spotting during the first few months that you take this type of pill.
Implant birth control
This method must be inserted into your body by your doctor. A small implantable rod can be placed under the skin on your upper arm where it releases hormones to prevent pregnancy. The rod is about the size of a match and is flexible.
Because the rod is a type of hormonal birth control, it may cause changes in your period. Some women have heavier or longer periods, while others have lighter periods, or no periods at all.)(3)
Intrauterine devices or IUDs are T-shaped implants that are placed by your doctor in the lining of your uterus. There are two basic types: copper and hormonal.
Copper IUDs release the mineral copper which interferes with sperm reaching an egg. If the egg does become fertilized, the IUD prevents the egg from implanting in the wall of uterus.
Copper IUDs may result in heavier than normal bleeding with your monthly period, and may cause increased cramping. These changes may decline approximately six months after you receive your IUD. A copper IUD should be replaced after about 10 years. (4)
Hormonal IUDs release progestin into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. These IUDs are more likely to cause your period to be lighter and less painful over time. Hormonal IUDs must be replaced every three to five years. (4)
This method blocks the fallopian tubes or surgically cuts or ties the fallopian tubes to prevent sperm and eggs from meeting. This non-hormonal method does not affect your period. But unlike the other methods listed, sterilization is a permanent form of birth control that cannot be reversed if you decide you want to get pregnant.(1)
All hormonal birth control methods cause temporary changes to your natural hormone levels. You must continue to use your chosen hormonal birth control on the regular, prescribed schedule in order for it to work.
Skipping pills or not replacing an implant when it is due may lead to an unintended pregnancy. Other medications including certain antibiotics can affect how well hormonal birth control works.
If you decide you want to get pregnant, you will need to stop using hormonal birth control so your body can resume natural hormone levels.
Hormonal birth control stops protecting you from pregnancy as soon as you stop taking it. So if you don’t want to get pregnant right away, you will need to use an alternate method of birth control.
Most women ovulate about two weeks after stopping hormonal birth control and resume a cycle of periods similar to what they had before using hormonal birth control. You can get pregnant as soon as your body resumes ovulating. (2)
Some women who stop hormonal birth control don’t get their periods back for several months. If your period does not resume within three months of stopping hormonal birth control, take a pregnancy test and talk to your health care provider.
Women who have given birth should wait at least three weeks after the baby is born before taking hormonal birth control.(1) Taking hormonal birth control too soon after giving birth can increase your risk of developing dangerous blood clots.
If you have questions about what type of birth control is right for you, or if you want to change your birth control method, talk to your health care provider.
Reviewed July 29, 2916
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
1) Birth control methods fact sheet. Office on Women’s Health. Web. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
2) Birth control pill FAQ: Benefits, risks and choices. Mayo Clinic. Web. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
3) Health Matters Fact Sheets: Implant. Association of Reproductive Health Professionals. Web. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
4) Is My Period Heavy Because of My IUD? Healthline. Ashley Marcin. Web. Retrieved July 27, 2016.