Many women using birth control methods do not experience their monthly periods, and only end up experiencing what is known as withdrawal bleeding. The reason behind this is that the women are not ovulating, and as such, are unable to get a normal period, which only comes about after ovulation has occurred.
As the contraception method is suppressing your ovulation, it also contains enough estrogen, which ensures that no bleeding will occur while on the pill. As such, when this pill is withdrawn at the end of each month, you end up with withdrawal bleeding, instead of your regular period.
In this article, we are going to look at what is withdrawal bleeding, its symptoms, duration, and how to differentiate between withdrawal bleeding after stopping birth control and normal menstruation periods.
What is bleeding after stopping birth control?
Withdrawal bleeding, also known as a fake or hormonal period refers to monthly bleeding experienced by women, while they are using hormonal birth control options e.g. the patch, Provera shot or while on the pill.
When the placebo week for each of these methods comes about, a woman will normally experience withdrawal bleeding. The bleeding typically looks like the normal monthly period. But, you should note that there is a difference between withdrawal bleeding and the regular menstrual period.
When does it occur?
For women taking a combination of hormonal contraceptive methods, they should expect the withdrawal bleeding to happen when they are not taking the hormones that are present in the contraception options. In many cases, this takes place on the last or fourth week of the woman’s cycle.
The bleeding is caused by the fact that a change in your normal hormone dosage has taken place in your body. For pill users, this occurs in the fourth week when they are taking the placebo pills, which do not contain any hormones. The lack birth controlling hormones in your body, thereby causes your uterus lining to slightly weaken, which then leads to bleeding.
As mentioned above, this type of bleeding only occurs because there has been a change in the hormone levels, and should therefore not be confused with your regular period. It is also possible for the bleeding to take place after undergoing a progesterone therapy course.
When you make the decision to try and make a baby, the very first step you will need to take will be to stop using contraceptive methods. When this happens, all hormones that were present in your ring, pill, or patch will leave your body within a period of five days.
Having left your body, you are likely to experience certain symptoms, some of which may mimic an actual pregnancy, but, there is no need for you to get worried, as this is just but a normal way for the body to catch up with the natural cycle that had been suppressed. Some of the symptoms you are likely to experience include:
It is common to experience pimple-related problems soon after you have stopped using your normal birth control methods. It happens because:
- The ring, pill, or patch has stopped pumping estrogen into your body. The hormone helps in combating oily skin, and this explains why it is recommended for treating acne inflammations.
- When you stop using contraception, your testosterone levels become boosted, and this leads to a breakout.
2. Erratic emotions
Having stopped using birth control, it becomes very easy for you to become stressed about the life-changing decisions that you are making. However, the mood swings and erratic nerves could be because of doing away with the steady hormone flow, which was being provided by the contraceptive pills or patches.
The contraception methods were previously in charge of ensuring that your hormones remained steady, but now that you are off these methods, they are likely to start fluctuating once again. Actually, the different hormone types available in your body are likely to change from one week to the next.
Withdrawal bleeding and pregnancy
Can you have withdrawal bleeding and still be pregnant? Generally, this is not possible. If you become pregnant when you are using the contraceptive pills, it means that the typical withdrawal bleeding after stopping birth control will not take place.
The reason being that progesterone production taking place in the corpus luteum gland found in your ovaries overrides the progesterone drop ensuring that the active pills are not finished. Sometimes, you may experience spotting while you are pregnant, but you should not confuse this with a full period.
How long does it last?
It takes a few days for the hormones that were present in your contraception method to leave your body. This means that withdrawal bleeding after stopping birth control could last for between five days and a week.
But, even though the hormones have left your body, this does not mean that your cycle will return immediately. It may take a few of days for it to normalize, with some women having to wait for between two and three months for this to occur.
One thing you can expect to deal with would be the hormone related side-effects that were present before you started using the pill, as they are likely to come back. If for instance, you are like many women who started utilizing the pill to assist them with problems like:
- Mood swings
- Irregular or heavy bleeding
- Spots or acne
- Menstrual cramps
There is a very big possibility that all these problems will come back as soon as you have stopped using the pill. In case you are worried about such problems, you should discuss your fears with your nurse or doctor, who will be in a position to advise you on alternative treatments that you can consider.
Does it mean no pregnancy?
YES. As mentioned earlier, if your birth control pills fail, and you end up becoming pregnant, the normal withdrawal bleeding after stopping birth control will not take place. Therefore, when you get this fake period, it means that you are not pregnant.
When does ovulation occur after a withdrawal bleed?
If you have resolved to stop using the pill, the possibility is that you would like to conceive. But, you should understand that it can take a few weeks to months, for first cycle ovulation to occur, according to the University of California.
The duration is influenced by your current health status and the kind of pill that you were using before to prevent conception. Also, they also get to influence the length of time it will take to restore fertility and hormone balance.
Traditionally, you should start ovulating within 2-4 weeks after you have stopped using the birth control pill. But, women who have been using the pill for a long time, as well as older women may have to wait for a much longer duration before they can ovulate, according to Columbia Health.
In certain cases, it could take months before a regular ovulation cycle can be re-established. It, therefore, becomes quite difficult to calculate the exact return of your first cycle. Even though it is highly unusual, it is possible for you to become pregnant, without experiencing your normal period.
How to stop withdrawal bleeding?
Estrogen and progestin contained in contraception pills are two hormones created in a lab, and which are designed to imitate the estrogen and progesterone hormones found in a human being. When you use a birth control pill, it releases hormones in your body, during times your body would naturally not be doing so. As such, it disrupts your menstrual cycle, and in the process prevents pregnancy.
When you are coming off a birth control method, and want to start trying to conceive, the goal will naturally be to nourish and provide support to your hormonal feedback loop, uterine health, cervical mucus, and egg health. You can use the following remedies to achieve this:
- Tamarind—it is rich in antioxidants and fibers, which enables it to reduce cholesterol levels while preventing excess blood flow from withdrawing from the pills. Additionally, it also provides much-needed protection against heart diseases and cancer. You should soak ten tamarind pieces together with four pieces of dry plum in half a liter of water. The next day, take the seeds and crush them, before adding three honey teaspoons to sweeten the mixture. The concoction should be taken on an empty stomach and should be consumed for a duration of at least five days.
- Orange juice—to improve your overall health, you need to consume fresh juices on a frequent basis. Prepare a concoction by adding two tablespoons of lemon juice to your glass of orange juice. Ensure that you drink this blend at least four times in a single day. Oranges contain vitamin C, which assists in reducing the symptoms that are associated with withdrawal bleeding.
- Gooseberry juice—this particular juice can help in solving a number of health-related issues. You need to make a blend of gooseberry juice and mint juice. Make certain that it is properly stirred, and make it a habit of consuming it often.
- Broccoli—broccoli juice comes highly recommended for women who are dealing with bleeding attributed to pill usage. You will be required to extract juices from fresh apples and broccoli. Combine the two juices and ensure that you drink between four and five glasses of this blend each day to help stop bleeding.
- Pumpkin—it is another home remedy that you can rely on when you want to stop this type of bleeding. You will need to take out the pumpkin pulp and leave it to dry. Do not dry it out in the sun as it should be dried at room temperature. Once dry, you will need to grind the pulp and then add a small amount of natural sugar to come up with a mixture. Take the resulting mixture with a cup of milk or yogurt on a daily basis to notice positive results.
- Fennel—Measure a single teaspoon of fennel seeds and then grind them into a fine Boil two glasses of water and add the fennel powder to the boiling water. Allow the fennel seed solution to steep for at least ten minutes. Drink the fennel solution while still hot to stop bleeding.
Withdrawal bleeding is normally treated using Medroxyprogesterone. The medicine is a type of progesterone, which plays an important role in regulating ovulation. It can also be used to treat conditions such as abnormal uterine bleeding, and irregular or absent menstrual flows. If you are taking estrogens, the medication can also be used to decrease your risk of getting endometrial hyperplasia.
Before you can start using this medication, you should understand that it can lead to congenital disabilities down the line. Additionally, confirm whether you are pregnant, before taking the pills. It is recommended that you provide your doctor with all your health information, including whether you have a liver disease, have a history of getting blood clots or strokes, and whether you have any abnormal vaginal bleeding that is yet to be diagnosed.
Your doctor will use the information provided to establish whether you should use this medication to treat the withdrawal bleeding or not. Prior to trying out conventional medicine, you should start by trying out the home remedies discussed above. Medication should always be the last option.
- Women’s Health Personnel. (N.D). The birth control pill: http://www.wdxcyber.com/m2contra3.html
- Ed. (2017). Coming off the pill: https://www.dred.com/uk/coming-off-the-pill.html
- Dawn Stacey. (2017, July 26). Understanding withdrawal bleeding. :https://mom.me/pregnancy/13369-ovulation-first-cycle-after-stopping-pill/