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Birth Control Pills - Periods

Medically reviewed on Jun 15, 2018 by L. Anderson, PharmD

When should I expect my period when using birth control pills?

For many women using birth control pills they will find that over time their periods may become more regular, lighter, and less painful.

Combination Birth Control Pills

If a combination birth control pill (estrogen and progestin pills in a 21- or 28-day birth control pill pack) is started for the first time on the Sunday after your period begins, your period should occur about 25 days later. Ask your healthcare provider which day is the best to start your specific pill pack. If your period begins on a Sunday, you can start the pill pack on that Sunday.

Extended-Cycle or Continuous Cycle Combination Birth Control Pills

If you take extended cycle (i.e., Seasonale, Seasonique) birth control pills you will only have four periods per year. If you take continuous dose birth control pills (i.e., Amethyst) you will eliminate your periods completely. However, breakthrough bleeding or spotting may occur with extended- and continuous-dose birth control pills. This may last for up to 3 to 6 months, but will usually subside over time.

  • Extended cycle pills like Seasonique have 12 weeks of active combined hormone pills (estrogen and progestin) that you take continuously for 12 weeks, followed up by 1 week of reminder pills (91 pills total). You take one pill each day. You’ll only have your period once every three months. You are protected from pregnancy even the week that you take the reminder pills, as with regular combination birth control pills.
  • Continuous cycle pills like Amethyst contain 28 days of active combined hormonal pills (estrogen and progestin). You take one pill each day for 28 days in a row; there are no inactive pills. As soon as you finish one pack, you start the next pack the following day. You do not take a break in between packs. Your periods will most likely stop, but you may have spotting. Do not stop your pills if you have spotting.

Progestin-Only Birth Control Pills ("Mini-Pills")

With progestin-only pills, all 28 pills have a progestin-only hormone (no estrogen) and come in a 4-week (28-day) pack. Take one pill every day in the progestin-only pack to be protected from pregnancy. You must take progestin-only pills within the same three hour time period every day to be protected from pregnancy. For example, if you normally take your pill at 8 PM, taking it after 11 PM the next night may put you at higher risk for pregnancy. Take every progestin-only pill in a pack to be protected from pregnancy — there is no hormone-free week. You may get a period in the 4th week, off-and-on bleeding or spotting, or no period at all.

See Also

Sources

  1. Birth Control Pills. Planned Parenthood. Website. Accessed March 21, 2018 at http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control/birth-control-pill-4228.htm
  2. How do I use the birth control pill? Planned Parenthood. Website. Accessed June 15, 2018 at https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/birth-control-pill/how-do-i-use-the-birth-control-pill

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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