Doctor's answer: Next period after stopping birth control

Doctor's answer: Next period after stopping birth control

A worried reader asks Dr Dana about menstruation after stopping birth control. Read what he has to say...

Reader's question:

In early April I had my period. A couple of days later I started taking my birth control pills for that month, but then stopped taking them after a week. Late April I had another period that lasted for around 5 days and in the mean time my husband and I had unprotected sex a couple of times, it is now mid May and I don't know where I stand as far as "am I pregnant"? When should I expect my next period after stopping birth control?

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Doctor's answer

Maybe you’ve been getting your period for some time, or maybe the experience is brand new to you. As you get older, you may find that your period seems different than it used to be. In all cases, it’s important to remember that every woman is different.

Some women have shorter, lighter periods, while others have heavier, longer periods. Any of these scenarios can be perfectly normal. And it's also normal for a woman’s menstrual cycle to change over time.

What happens after stopping birth control?

It's important to make the distinction between a period and breakthrough bleeding because many women believe they are the same. Breakthrough bleeding, also known as intermenstrual bleeding, is a term that describes bleeding between periods. Some women on oral contraceptives may experience breakthrough bleeding.

Long-term irregularity can be anything from a cycle that changes in length from month to month to the experience of various abnormal symptoms such as heavy bleeding, no cycle for months for a period of time, very painful periods or ovulation.

Short-term irregularity can be due to any of the causes such as fatigue, stress, and over exercise which generally occurs infrequently.

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Why do I have an irregular menstrual cycle?

Irregular menstrual cycle has become common problem among women today. It is found that one out of every five women suffer with this problem. There are several reasons for a menstrual cycle to become irregular.

Fluctuation in periods indicates the beginning of disturbance in the natural chain of hormonal events that manage menstruation. Possible causes include smoking and alcohol.

The other common responsible factors for irregular menstrual cycle are: significant weight gain or loss, over-exercise, breastfeeding, polycystic ovarian syndrome/estrogen dominance, poor nutrition, medications, eating disorders, hormonal imbalance, recent childbirth, miscarriage or uterine abnormalities (fibroids/cysts/polyps/endometriosis).

Irregular ovulation

The occasional skipped menses cycle is not the only symptom of this problem. However, continued abnormality in period is also an indication of irregular ovulation and irregular menstrual cycle. See your doctor if this continues for a long time. As irregular menstrual cycle is treated according to the cause, it is determined with a blood test, ultrasound and biopsy.

Often hormonal imbalance will be the major cause for irregular menstrual cycle, which can be treated with appropriate drugs or hormones. Surgical removal of polyps or fibroids may also be done, if required.

Treatment for irregular menses is also based on your plan for children. If you decide to have pregnancy, then a hormonal contraceptive or supplement will be prescribed to regulate your menstrual cycles.

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After stopping birth control

Adverse effects of taking hormonal contraceptives include nausea, breast tenderness, breakthrough bleeding, amenorrhea, and headaches. A few months of delay of normal ovulatory cycles may occur after discontinuation of oral contraceptives. Possible long-term effects include venous thrombosis, hypertension, Atherogenesis and stroke, hepatocellular adenoma, and cancers (breast and cervical ).

A site where you can record your cycles can be found at monthlyinfo.com.

Answered by:

Dr Dana Elliott Srither MBBS (Singapore), Grad Dip Family Medicine, is a certified Family Physician who believes in the principles of "Get Well" and "Stay Well".

 

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