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Birth Control Pills - Breakthrough Bleeding

Medically reviewed on Feb 7, 2013 by L. Anderson, PharmD.

Why do I get breakthrough bleeding with my birth control pill?

  • When any birth control pill is started, there is a chance that breakthrough bleeding may occur during the first few months of use. Breakthrough bleeding occurs as your body adjusts to different hormone levels. Breakthrough bleeding is a normal and usually temporary side effect with birth control use.
  • The chances for breakthrough bleeding are greater with progestin-only, continuous-dose or extended-dose birth control pills. In addition, you are more likely to have breakthrough bleeding if you miss a pill, take certain medications that interfere with the pill, or have vomiting or diarrhea that may interfere with the absorption of the pill.
  • Continue taking your birth control as directed, even if you have breakthrough bleeding. Breakthrough bleeding usually subsides in a few months.
  • If breakthrough bleeding does not subside, becomes very heavy or lasts for more than seven days in a row, contact your healthcare provider. You may need to change the type of birth control or birth control pill that you use.

See Also


  1. Planned Parenthood. Website. Birth Control Pills. Accessed July 21, 2012
  2. Ortho MicroNor Package Insert. Janssen Pharmaceuticals. DailyMed. Accessed July 21, 2012.