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Birth Control/Getting my period while on birth control

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Question
Hello,

I started birth control about 2-3 days prior to starting my period (wednesday nov. 21) and though i've been taking it every night since i've started, I got my period around 3 am this morning (monday nov 26) I have a very special event this friday and didn't want to be on my period, though now it seems I have no choice, but my question is if I continue taking my pills will the bleed continue? I've read that it will and for possibly longer than your typical period. So far I have just had the bleed once this morning, it doesn't seem to be continuing but it is still early to tell. Would it be best to continue the pill or stop taking them and let my body have its natural period and hope it reaches a lighter point by friday? If so, does vigorous working out and drinking a lot of water help lighten the cycle a bit? Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing back!

Answer
R.,

When I started birth control I did the exact same thing. I'm not sure whether anyone told you this or not but there are two ways to start your first pill pack:

1. The first day start which is where you start your pack the same day you start your period (start bleeding on Wednesday/take first pill on Wednesday)

2. The Sunday start, which is where you take your first pill the first Sunday after you start your period (start bleeding on Wednesday/ wait five days and take your first pill that Sunday - the fifth day of your period). This is the most common method, probably because pill manufacturers always start their packs' week on Sunday.

When you start the pill pack during your period you're in full-swing protection mode by the time your natural period stops and the pills take over and are immediately effective in controlling against your next round of ovulation/lining build up -- so that's why they recommend you don't start willy-nilly mid-cycle.

What I did - and maybe you did too- was rip open my prescription in the parking lot of the drugstore, read the instructions and then decided to ignore them because YAYBIRTHCONTROLYAY! Then I got my period for three weeks. Not fun.


If I'm reading your scenario correctly, I think what happened in your case was that the train had already left the station. You had ovulated for the month, you had built up your uterine lining, you had failed to get pregnant, and you body was all set to clean things out. Those three days of pills you took were not enough to reverse your natural cycle and even though you're still taking them, it probably wont stop the menstruation once it's started (sorry). In more bad news, once you reach your placebo week you'll probably bleed again. Whether or not your bleeding is prolonged depends on your personal body chemistry and reaction to the hormones. Your natural period should be its standard length, but breakthrough bleeding is common side effect.

In any case, even if you do it perfectly, the first month of birth control, whether it's your first time ever taking it, or you're just back from a break, can be really weird and a little unpredictable. For me, I eventually had to switch pills because it can be a tricky prescription to get right the first time out of the gate. Providers tend to prescribe the lowest dose of hormones possible in order to avoid giving you more medicine than you need, but this can backfire when you need a slightly higher dose to suppress bleeding. For you, it's probably too soon to tell if this is the case, but if your bleeding continues for another couple weeks, I'd let your doctor know.

As for your special occasion, I would continue taking your prescription and hope for the best. You could stop if you want to and try again using one of the two start methods next month, but doing so would only prolong the time it takes to gain the benefits the pill offers. And I hate to tell you, but neither working out nor drinking fluids is going to lighten your period - if it did you better believe I would be the fittest, most hydrated person I know. You just have to go with the flow, so to speak.

Also, if your period does end up stopping by Friday, please remember that you are not yet protected against pregnancy. So if your special occasion involves romance, pack a condom. You need to wait a full cycle of perfect-non-stop-pill-taking before you're covered.

Good luck (and sorry that was so long),

Julia  

Birth Control

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Julia Fout

Expertise

I can answer questions pertaining to how to choose and acquire contraception, how to talk to parents, doctors and partners about birth control, emergency contraception, missed periods, breakthrough bleeding,and how to use all methods correctly.

Experience

I am working towards my Masters of Public Health with a concentration in Health Behaviors and Health Education. The advice I provide is based on the most recent scholarly research in the areas of health, adolescent development, sex education and the promotion of healthful sexual behaviors. I want to be able to provide teens with relevant, practical, fact-based information so they're well equipped to navigate tough choices and confusing situations.

Organizations
ECU, the Brody School of Medicine, Department of Public Health

Education/Credentials
BA in Psychology/minor in Education
MPH Candidate

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