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I'm On Birth Control and I'm Always Bloated

Published: February 14, 2017
Dear TeenHealthFX,
hello, im on birth control and i am always bloated! i look pregnant but dont feel pregnant. i got my period on time. can i be pregnant? how do i reduce bloating? it feels like there is never a time where im not bloated even in the mornings. how do i tell if im having breakthrough bleeding, period, or pregnancy bleeding?
Signed: I'm On Birth Control and I'm Always Bloated

Dear I'm On Birth Control and I'm Always Bloated,

Menstruation, Birth Control and Pregnancy

If you got your period, then you would not be pregnant. A menstrual period is a result of the shedding of the lining of the uterus (womb). When a woman is pregnant, the fetus is attached to the uterus. So you cannot have your period and be pregnant at the same time.

As for the chances of your being pregnant, most forms of birth control (the pill, the birth control shot, IUDs) are very effective when taken as prescribed. If you have been taking your birth control as prescribed it would be unlikely that you are pregnant.

Some pregnant women experience implantation bleeding. It is usually easy to tell the difference between implantation bleeding and a menstrual period because implantation bleeding tends to be significantly lighter and usually involves some spotting over time as opposed to the constant flow of a menstrual period. Breakthrough bleeding can refer to various forms of vaginal bleeding, but is often used to describe the mid-cycle bleeding that can occur for women who use certain types of birth control pills. Again, breakthrough bleeding is usually light and often is referred to as spotting because it is so light and because the bleeding is not constant. If you have breakthrough bleeding associated with taking birth control, it usually does stop after a couple of cycles.

If you miss a period and are concerned you could be pregnant, TeenHealthFX recommends that you take a pregnancy test and/or meet with your doctor.

Doctors generally recommend that teens and young adults who choose to be sexually active use a method of birth control, such as the pill or birth control shot, that will protect against unwanted pregnancies. But they also recommend using condoms with whatever method of birth control your doctor recommends for you so that you have additional protection against unwanted pregnancies and so that you have some protection against the transmission of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), which other forms of birth control (such as the pill or birth control shot) don’t offer.

TeenHealth recommends you check out the links in our Resource of the Month: Planned Parenthood Resources on Safer Sex so that you can learn about birth control, STDs, how pregnancy happens, emergency contraception, pregnancy tests, safer sex and more. You might also consider reading the TeenHealthFX article, When Am I Ready for Sex?, to make sure that you are not putting yourself in any situations you are not ready for or comfortable with when it comes to being physically intimate with someone else.

 

Feeling Bloated

According to WebMD there are three main causes of bloating:

  • Overeating is probably the most common cause of bloating. Smaller portions should ease the pain.
  • Eating rich and fatty food can make you feel uncomfortably stuffed. Fat takes longer to digest than protein or carbohydrates, so it keeps the stomach full longer. Avoid bloating by limiting fats in your everyday diet.
  • Eating too fast adds to the risk of bloating after a meal. The remedy is simple -‑ eat more slowly. Satiety signals can take up to 20 minutes to reach the brain and dampen appetite. Many weight loss experts believe that eating slowly helps prevent overeating.

 

WebMD points to gassiness as the second most common cause of temporary bloating which can often result from swallowed air. To reduce the amount of air swallowed don’t drink through a straw, chew gum, quickly drink carbonated beverages, or suck on hard candy. There are also certain foods which can increase bloating, such as beans, lentils, certain fruits and vegetables, sweeteners, dairy products, and foods high in fiber. Increasing the amount of water you drink each day can also help with bloating.

As for a connection between bloating and the pill, it is possible for women to have hormone-related bloating due to being on the pill. Although keep in mind that this is not a common side-effect and women who do experience this usually find that this bloating side-effect goes away after a couple of months.

If your bloating has been a consistent thing, rather than temporary, and making some of the changes recommended above by WebMD are not helping, then please speak to your doctor about this issue so that he/she can determine what is contributing to the bloating and what to do about it.

 

In general, if you ever have any concerns or questions about birth control, pregnancy or anything else related to your sexual health, it is best to speak to your primary care physician, gynecologist or an adolescent medicine specialist. If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health in Morristown 973-971-6475 or the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health in Summit at 908-522-5757 for an appointment. Outside this area contact your local teen health center or Planned Parenthood.

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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