I've been on birth control for three months straight now. ( I had two normal periods 4-6 days the last two months) Last month I switched to a lower dosage pill so I could start "skipping" periods. Around the end of the first week of using the pills I started bleeding like I was having a normal period, and I am STILL bleeding. I just finished the pack of pills yesterday... Is this normal or should I see my doctor?
Dear An: You had good luck to have no breakthrough bleeding during the initial two months of birth control pill use. Alas, breakthrough bleeding (BTB) can be a common side effect of most types of hormonal birth control (eg pills/patch/ring/shot/Mirena IUD). Among birth control pill users BTB frequently occurs after a missed or late pill. In your case it sounds like you are careful to take pills at the same time daily. More remotely, BTB in a pill user can arise if she has gotten a chlamydia infection. Yet, if you both are monogamous this is not going to apply. It is also common for BTB to appear when one switches to another type of Pill--as seemed to happen in your case.
Bottom line, BTB on hormonal methods of birth control is a nuisance side effect. The protection from pregnancy is still in effect. If your poor cycle control persists through the second pack of your lower dose Pill you should return to your GYN or clinic. If it's really bothersome to you, you can choose to call sooner. Often a change in the brand, or formula, of birth control pill will fix the problem.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
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