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Birth Control and Irregular Periods


Although irregular periods are a common sign and symptom of menopause, they can also affect woman of any age. One of the key triggers of irregular periods outside of menopause is changes in birth control. This is because birth control methods alter the level of hormones in a woman's body, so any disruption or cessation of birth control can lead to menstrual irregularities.

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Birth control pills can be very beneficial for menopausal women as they can regulate two major hormones, progesterone and estrogen. As a result, they can help relieve many menopausal symptoms including mood swings, hot flashes, and irregular periods.

What Are Irregular Periods?

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Every woman should experience monthly periods, beginning during puberty and ending during menopause. The number of days between the start of each period cycle should be roughly around 28. However, because no women's menstrual cycle is ever the same, 28 days is just an average figure used by doctors. (It is also common for women to miss periods and experience other forms of irregularity.) If a woman does not get her period every 25 to 31 days then her cycle can be classified as irregular. Generally, this isn't a cause for concern as periods that are irregular are often nothing to worry about.

The Relationship Between Birth Control and Irregular Periods

Birth control can significantly impact irregular periods because taking the pill stops ovulation. However, once you stop taking the pill then any additional hormones will quickly leave the body. As your body adjusts to the withdrawal of hormones, it will return to its original menstrual pattern. Women who had irregular periods prior to taking birth control might suffer from irregular periods in the aftermath.

Are There Other Reasons Why I Have Irregular Periods?

If you didn't previously suffer from irregular periods, then it is likely that coming off birth control has affected your menstrual cycle. However, there are other potential causes of irregular periods. These include:

  • Stress
  • Diet
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Drug use
  • Caffeine and alcohol

These five things, could explain why you suffer from irregular periods after finishing birth control pills.

Recommendation

A doctor may prescribe birth control pills to normalize irregular cycles. Often this is very successful. However, you should attempt to start treating irregularities with natural treatments, and only resort to birth control pills if your symptoms persist. Click on the links below to learn more information about irregular periods.


Menstrual Irregularities

Menstrual irregularities are common in certain stages of life, such as menopause. Click here to learn more.

Q&A: Should I Be Surprised If I Am Having Irregular Periods at 40?

If you are approaching 40 and having irregular periods, you are very likely in perimenopause. Learn more about menopause and irregular periods here.

Menstrual Disorders

Most women suffer from menstrual disorders at some point in their lives. The average woman has between 11 and 13 periods a year.

Sources:
  • Hutchinson, Susan M.D. "The Stages of a Woman's Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause". November 2007.
  • Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
  • BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007