There’s nothing worse than getting your period when you’re not prepared for it. An unexpected period is something that can happen from time to time and for happens to every woman at some point in their life. An early period on the pill can seem like a worrying sign but for the most part, it is normal. We can all say we’ve been there.
There are a number of factors which could lead to an early period on the pill, and the bleeding itself can be categorized into either breakthrough or spotting bleeding, or menstrual bleeding.
Breakthrough / Spotting Bleeding
This is something that can common happen to women who take some form of birth control. The contraceptive pill, for example, injects hormones into the body that would normally be there anyway, just in different amounts. It is the manipulation of your hormones that stops you from getting pregnant. By injecting one or two hormones (progestin or estrogen), the hormone responsible for fertilizing and implanting your baby is reduced.
When you first start to take the pill, spotting or breakthrough bleeding is very common as your body adjust to the new balance. If it continues for a long time, it could be a sign that the contraceptive you’re using isn’t right for you but doctors would normally advice that you give it a shot for three or six months before making a decision, and in some women it can take even longer still.
If you miss your contraceptive dose, you can also experience breakthrough or spotting bleeding. The missed level of hormones causes a chain reaction in the body which can lead to some light bleeding. When you take your pill regularly again, you will usually find the problem goes away.
Birth control pills can have massive effects on your body and as well as preventing you from getting pregnant, they can also stop you from having periods, change the length of your cycle, give you a reduced flow, and some can even help with reducing and alleviating some of the symptoms such as cramps, headaches and even PMS.
Generally, with the contraceptive pill, you’ll take a course of around 21-23 tablets. You’ll then have a seven day break in which your period will come while your body has a break from the hormones.
Again, if you start taking a new pill, you can experience a change in your regular cycle. It could become longer or shorter which could lead to an early period on the pill. If you are sick, have an upset stomach, or haven’t taken your pill regularly, you can also experience changes to your cycle.
Early Period on Pill – When to Call a Doctor
If you’re experiencing an early period on the pill, it is wise to give it a couple of days to see if it goes away. Usually it will manifest itself as light bleeding or spotting, but if you experience cramps or other symptoms alongside it, you should seek medical advice.
If you are losing a lot of blood, you should also seek medical attention. If you are going through sanitary towels or tampons much faster than you usually would, it could be an indication of something going wrong. The same can be said for bleeding that goes on for a long time, irrespective of how heavy the flow.
Early Period on the Pill – What Else Could It Be?
As well as hormonal and natural changes to the contraceptive pill and other factors such as stress, periods of sickness, anxiety and depression, etc. there are a number of other more serious medical reasons why you could have an early period on the pill.
Sexually transmitted infections can often carry symptoms similar to an early period – bleeding, cramping and pain. Gonorrhea and Chlamydia are both STI’s which should be tested against if you have prolonged or excessive bleeding in between your period, and for women, the infections can lie dormant in the body without exposing itself in the form of symptoms for a very long time. It can also have an effect on your levels of fertility, dramatically reducing the chances of you getting pregnant if you leave the condition undiagnosed and untreated. This is why it is important to have regular sexual health tests if you are sexually active, and definitely if you do not have protected sex.
There are other causes to an early period on the pill and you cannot rule out conditions such as PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, endometriosis, fibroids, and even a tumor. If you are in any doubt or you have noticed ongoing or definitive changes to your body or your menstrual cycle, it is always a good idea to get it checked out. Sometimes a quick test and a chat could be all it takes to put your mind at ease.