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Getting Nowhere With My Birth Control

Published: April 12, 2016
Dear TeenHealthFX,
I've been on a new birth control pill for about 5 months (after Mirena for a year). A couple weeks ago I started breakthrough bleeding. It gets really light to the point where it seems like it's going to stop and then gets really heavy again. If I miss taking my pill by even 20 minutes I start bleeding, but I am really good about taking it on time. My ob gyn is not really concerned, but I am thinking about going to see my old one as well. I used to be on a different birth control pill that worked really well but she doesn't want to switch me because the old one is a lower mg than the new one. I feel like maybe the new one is too high? How normal is this? I feel like I'm getting no where and I'm going to bleed forever.
Signed: Getting Nowhere With My Birth Control

Dear Getting Nowhere With My Birth Control,

Breakthrough bleeding is normal for the first few months when starting a new birth control pill as your body needs time to adjust to the different hormone levels. Estrogen and progestin are the two hormones that are found in birth control pills. They work together to prevent ovulation and stabilize the lining of the uterus. Progestin (which is the hormone found in Mirena) thins the uterine lining, while estrogen prevents it from becoming too thin. If pills are taken regularly, this combination prevents the lining from breaking down and bleeding.  

Smoking, inconsistency in taking the pill (such as missing doses or taking it at different times each day), and certain medications can increase your chances of breakthrough breathing while on birth control pills.

If the breakthrough bleeding does not stop after the first few cycles (usually more than three to four months), becomes heavy, or lasts for more than seven days in a row, then you should contact your doctor and inform him/her of the situation. Your doctor may switch your current pill to one with an increased dose of estrogen, a different type of progestin, or extend the number of days you take the active pills. 

If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-5199 for an appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist or contact your local teen health center or Planned Parenthood. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.

 

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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