Written by Mhairi Tait.
Nowadays, there are so many types of birth control that making a choice about what’s right for you can feel pretty overwhelming. One factor to consider is how contraception will affect your periods.
Will they be lighter or heavier? Shorter or longer? Less or (God forbid) more painful? Frustratingly, it’s often impossible to know how a particular individual will react to a given contraceptive. However, we are Fablittlebag are here to help you make an informed choice about what’s best for you.
The Contraceptive Pill
Most people experience a ‘period-type bleed’ in the 7-day withdrawal period with no bleeding for the rest of the month. (NB: If you’re taking any hormonal birth control which stops ovulation, the bleeding you experience is not strictly a ‘period’, since, if all is well, you won't be shedding an egg. And you’re no more likely to get pregnant during the withdrawal period than during the 21 days when you’re taking the contraceptive pill). If, say, you’re going on holiday and want to delay your period, it’s possible to skip the withdrawal week – following consultation with your GP. When it comes to what is the best contraceptive pill for you and your personal needs, it is also best to speak to your doctor. Just 1 in 10 people stopped the contraceptive pill due to heavy bleeding in the first 6 months. The patch has very similar effects.
Bleeding on the implant is generally harder to predict than on the contraceptive pill. The Implant side effects can mean that periods could become lighter, heavier, longer, or even stop completely. However, only 1 in 10 people had the implant removed due to irregular bleeding. Typically, when confirming how long the implant lasts, you will be advised to have the contraceptive implant for 3 years, but it can be left in and will continue to keep you protected for up to four years, based on the advice of the NHS. The injection has similar effects but it’s more likely to stop your periods (50% after a year) and around 20% of people discontinue it due to the inconvenience of irregular or no bleeding.
With the non-hormonal coil (IUD) periods are likely to become heavier, longer, and (unfortunately) more painful in the first 3-6 months. However, with time, periods fall into a regular pattern in most cases. With the hormonal coil (IUS) periods usually become lighter, shorter, or stop altogether. The brand Jaydess is less likely than Mirena or Levosert to stop your periods. Research suggests that the IUS is the most effective hormonal contraceptive for managing heavy and painful periods, with bleeding decreasing by 90% within a year!
The Mini Pill
Bleeding can be difficult to predict as periods may become lighter, more or less frequent, or stop altogether. After a year, periods stop completely for around 20% of people taking desogestrel (12 hour) POP, a higher rate than for other types of POP. It’s been reported that up to 50% of users discontinue the POP due to irregular bleeding.As mentioned earlier, everyone has a different reaction to these different types of birth control. It is therefore NECESSARY to go through this journey with a certified medical professional, who can guide you through the process and also provide aftercare.