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Old 04-12-2012, 08:38 AM   #1
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How does a "period" on birth control actually work?

I find this topic so confusing. I've read that when you get your "period" on birth control, it isn't a real period, but a withdrawal bleed due to lack of hormones when taking the sugar pills. But I don't see any real differences between the birth control period and my natural period except the regularity of it. I'm disappointed because I was really hoping bc would alleviate my problems with menstruation.

I've been on Yaz for about 10 months now and I've found that my PMS/period symptoms haven't improved much- I still get bloating, headaches, cramping, fun digestive problems that are not very polite to discuss, maddening cravings, cystic acne breakouts along my chin, tender boobs, water weight gain (up to 5 lbs seemingly overnight!) and mood swings. If I'm getting a "fake" period, why are all of my "real" period symptoms still happening? The only thing I've noticed that's different is a change in color and thickness of my flow. It used to be heavy and clotted, deep dark *** and sometimes brown. Now on Yaz, it's an orange-*** and thinner but still with an occasional clot.

I got so fed up with all of the misery that I decided to (under advisement from my OBGYN) skip the inactive pills and just get my period every 3 months instead of every month. I'm on the first month of skipping my period and it was going very well in the beginning. I finished one pack, skipped the inactive pills, and started on a new pack immediately. My skin stayed clear, my weight didn't shoot up wildly, and I was feeling great. I was about a week away from starting my next pack when my "period" came anyway... and it's making me insane!! The hormone fluctuations make me feel like I can't function- it took me an hour just to leave the house this morning and I almost started crying when faced with the choice of what pair of pants to wear.

So I guess my question is: what can I do? Should I switch to a new bc? The best thing about Yaz has been how it's cleared up my skin on my face and back (it took years of painstaking treatments and cash down the toilet to discover my cystic acne was hormonal, not diet/skincare related) and I don't want to lose that. I suppose I'm vain but the outbreaks are also very painful and uncomfortable. Also, period problems aside, it's inexpensive with my insurance and manageable to take once a day.

Anyone who's made it through this mega-post have any similar experiences with Yaz or bc problems like this in general? Or maybe you can explain how birth control periods actually work? I really appreciate any thoughts or explanations about this stuff. In the meantime I'll just be here gnawing on a Cadbury bar.

 
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Old 04-12-2012, 12:29 PM   #2
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Re: How does a "period" on birth control actually work?

I'm not an expert on this, I just know what I know based on what I've read in my own research on the topic. So, I'm just letting you know ahead of time that all that I tell you is just my own conclusions based on what I've read.

First, unfortunately not every woman who goes on the pill gets to experience the shorter lighter periods and/or relief from PMS symptoms. Because we're all so different biologically, I think the mechanism controlling the way the pill changes body chemistry just doesn't have the same benefits from woman to woman.

Secondly, one of the main things that distinguishes a pill period from a real period is the reason for the bleed. In a real period, the body has this whole process which takes a month(ish) to go through chemically and biologically to prepare the body for a period. It's all very hormonally driven and it affects pretty much all body systems, not just the reproductive organs. So this is a huge lengthy process when it's a natural period.

Conversely, when you're on the pill, the pill tricks your body into thinking it's pregnant so the withdrawal bleed happens when the hormone level drops due to the sugar pills. The bleed isn't triggered by a natural process but rather by a purely fake hormonal drop from the sugar pills. The hormonal surge and drop however still causes things like PMS because your hormones are being manipulated by the pill. That's why you still get symptoms because of the hormonal shift.

I don't know if any of this helps you or not but I feel your pain. I've had nothing but problems with my period being too heavy for years and years and years and I've tried every pill under the sun but nothing made it better. I found out I had a fibroid which was finally removed and I thought wow maybe now I'll get some relief! But sadly no, still heavy for about 3 or 4 of my 8-9 day period. Yay womanhood.

I think you could try a different pill, I have friends on ortho tri cyclen and they really love it. You may want to try a few different ones before you give up though cause maybe you'll get lucky and find one that helps.

 
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Old 04-29-2013, 03:43 PM   #3
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Re: How does a "period" on birth control actually work?

Tamala,

The previous answer covers some ground but does not answer your question. if your body thinks its pregnant, why is there period symptoms?

I have been trying to get answers too. Why would my body start PMSing days before I even finish the pack? It should be thinking its pregnant. Yet its fully PMS stuff, sore breasts, water gain, cramps... period stuff.

So far I just seem to confuse doctors with this question. These are not pregnancy symptoms.. these are period symptoms. Long before my body even knows its not really pregnant. Im still taking pills and this happens.

I will keep asking, one day an answer will actually make sense Im sure. When that happens I will share it here.

In my case all I can think of is that its been this way for years (for me) so maybe the body times things... and remembers last month. Maybe after 15 years of that cycle, fake or not... the body is counting days.

For that reason though, any pill you keep on taking with no breaks... you may want to give a few months to work properly, to retrain your body to this new schedule. Makes more sense than giving up right away I think...

 
Old 04-29-2013, 03:58 PM   #4
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Re: How does a "period" on birth control actually work?

The birth control pill prevents ovulation so there is no egg to fertilize with the sperm. The bleeding you get while on birth control pills is withdrawal bleeding caused by the drop in synthetic hormones when you take the pill - not due to the egg from ovulation passing. If oyu don't take the placebo pills or take a break, then this bleed usually doesn't happen. Hope this helps.

Last edited by Titchou; 04-29-2013 at 04:00 PM.

 
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