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How does hormonal contraception impact on periods?

Have you ever thought to yourself...how does birth control impact my period?

You’re not alone.

The key thing to note is that all hormonal contraceptives are associated with changes in menstrual bleeding patterns. Many changes will last for the first few months and then ease. But always speak to a GP if you feel concerned about how contraception is impacting your flow. This week we’ll explore the side effects of hormonal methods such as the Pill, IUD, Patch, Implant, ring, injection (There are so many options! We love to see it❤️‍🔥)

Before diving into this, it’s useful to know what “breakthrough bleeding” is. This refers to vaginal bleeding or spotting that occurs between menstrual periods or while pregnant. If breakthrough bleeding becomes heavy or lasts more than seven days in a row, contact your GP.

The Pill:

The pill can impact our menstrual cycles because it introduces different hormones into our system. Impacts on our period appear in a few different ways; by making it early, late, or stopping it altogether. It can also cause spotting, which is bleeding or brown discharge that occurs between periods. Menstrual periods typically resume within three months after you stop taking the pill.

Hormonal IUD:

Hormonal IUDs can oftentimes reduce period symptoms such as long-lasting or heavy periods. This is because levonorgestrel (a hormone that’s present in hormonal IUDs) thins the endometrium, and there is less material to shed (AKA periods may be lighter and briefer) One study showed that after about a year of using the hormonal IUD containing 52 mg levonorgestrel, as many as half of the users may stop bleeding completely,

Patch:

Your periods are often lighter, less painful and more regular when using the contraceptive patch. A nice part of the patch is not having to remember to take a pill each day! Instead, you just need to remember to change the patch once a week. Spotting can occur, however, a study showed less than 1 in 10 users stopped using the patch because of bleeding and spotting.

Ring:

This small, flexible ring is inserted high in the vagina. It releases estrogen and progestin, which prevent ovulation. It is usually left in for three weeks and then removed for a week to allow for menstruation. However, some people will leave it in for an extended period of time. This is something to chat with your GP about. Regardless, the good news is that the ring can make your periods better! They may become more regular and less painful.

Injection:

Most people on the contraceptive shot have some change in their periods. This can vary between bleeding more days than usual, spotting between periods, or having no period altogether. Such side affects will typically subside after a year. Other possible side effects include nausea, weight gain, headaches, sore breasts, or depression.

Implant:

The implant may ease cramps and PMS, and it will typically make our periods lighter. 1 in 3 people even stop getting their period altogether after a year on the implant. It's safe to not get a period while you're on the implant and also be prepared for some light spotting. On average, users tend to bleed or spot for 7 days per month over the first three months of use.

Is your head spinning? It can be pretty overwhelming...why not bookmark this blog so that these answers are always at your fingertips. Always remember that these contraception methods do not protect against STIs, so remember to practice safe and protected sex.

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