Birth Control and Your Period
Will birth control change your period? Depending on the method, it might.
It’s pretty common for hormonal birth control (pill, ring, patch, shot, implant, and hormonal IUD) and for the non-hormonal IUD to affect your period. Depending on your birth control choice, your period could get lighter or heavier, come more or less often, or go away altogether. While these types of changes to your period might be cause for concern if you’re not on birth control, when birth control changes your period in these ways, it’s safe and normal.
Whether you’re choosing a new birth control method or trying to learn what to expect with your current one, here’s what to know. For answers to your specific questions about your period, make an appointment to talk to a provider at your nearest The Right Time health center.
Is it dangerous to have an unpredictable, irregular period (or not have a period at all) when I’m using birth control?
This is a common worry for people using birth control, but luckily, changes to your period because of birth control aren’t dangerous at all! These changes are just a side effect of the birth control itself—the same hormones or materials that help you avoid pregnancy can also change your period. These changes don’t increase your risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI), and they don’t change your chance of getting pregnant in the future—your body remains healthy even if your period isn’t exactly the same.
How exactly will my birth control change my periods?
It depends on what kind of birth control you choose!
The pill, the ring, and the patch:
- During the first few months: usually you’ll have a light period once a month while taking the placebo pills (or during the off time between rings or patches). It’s also common and normal to have bleeding between periods during the first few months of using these methods.
- After the first three months: usually you’ll have a light, predictable period once a month during the placebo pills or off time.
- Pro Tip: For people who use the pill, ring, or patch continuously, you probably won’t have a period at all, or just very light bleeding every so often. This is also totally safe.
Hormonal IUDs or the implant:
- During the first few months: it’s common to have light, irregular spotting or bleeding that’s hard to predict. Sometimes you’ll have light bleeding or bleeding that lasts for more days than your regular period.
- After the first three months: your bleeding will stay light, and sometimes your period stops entirely. The longer you use the IUD, the more likely it is that your period will stop coming—about half of people using Mirena or Liletta IUDs don’t have periods at all if they use their IUDs for three or more years continuously.
The shot (Depo-Provera):
- During the first few months: it’s common to have light, irregular spotting or bleeding that’s hard to predict. Sometimes you’ll have light spotting or bleeding that lasts for more days than your regular period.
- After the first three months: your bleeding will likely stay light, or sometimes stop entirely. After six to 12 months, half of people using the shot have no bleeding at all.
The copper IUD (no hormones)
- During the first few months: most people (7 to 8 out of 10) report slightly heavier periods than they had before, with more cramping. The timing of your periods stays the same, though—if you had a regular cycle before, it’ll probably be regular after.
- After the first three months: most people (8 out of 10) report that by six months, their bleeding is either the same as it was before or lighter.
Birth control methods used only at the time of sex (such as condoms, spermicide, or the pull out method) shouldn’t affect your periods at all.
While the descriptions above are just the most common changes that we see, everyone’s body can react slightly differently to birth control. Being a little different from the average is totally fine if it doesn’t bug you.
“What if I don’t like my bleeding pattern with my birth control?”
All these changes to your period are totally safe. However, they might occasionally be kind of annoying. If your bleeding pattern on birth control isn’t working for you, there are a couple of good options:
- Wait it out: it may take your body a few months to adjust to a new birth control and most people report that they like their bleeding pattern better after those first few months.
- Brainstorm with your provider at your nearest The Right Time health center: talk to your provider if your bleeding is bothering you—they might be able to recommend a different brand of pill, patch, ring, or IUD, or suggest a medication to help.
- Don’t be afraid to change your mind: if you’re fed up with your period changes using one method, don’t settle! Remember, it’s always legit to switch birth control methods at any time at The Right Time health centers! There are lots of other good options out there – find a health center near you here.
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