Late periods on the pill: should you be worried?
The contraceptive pill modifies the hormonal cycle… and therefore also the periods. It is therefore not uncommon to see a late period while taking the pill. Anne-Sylvie Tardieu, gynecologist, helps us shed light on the most frequently asked questions about periods on the pill.
What is late periods on contraceptive pills?
Our users of menstrual panties and other period thongs know: the absence or delay of periods, known as menstruation, can sometimes cause worry. Several factors can disrupt the menstrual cycle, such as:
- forgotten birth control pill
- the stress
- a change in weight
- or even a long trip.
However, it is important to emphasize that the absence or delay of periods while on the pill is entirely possible and should not always be a source of alarm . Also, the causes of delay can be multiple and varied, requiring in-depth understanding.
If you are a young girl, know that menstrual panties for teenagers exist so that you are not caught off guard during your period.
Late period? First, what is a normal menstrual cycle
Do you think you have a late period while on the pill? In a normal menstrual cycle, the average length is 28 days, although this can vary from 21 to 35 days in adults and 21 to 45 days in adolescents. The cycle has two main phases: the follicular phase and the luteal phase.
During the follicular phase, ovulation occurs, where an egg is released from the ovary. The luteal phase follows ovulation and is marked by the secretion of progesterone to prepare the endometrium for possible pregnancy. If fertilization does not occur, the endometrium is shed in the form of periods.
Factors that can disrupt the menstrual cycle
The menstrual cycle can be affected by a multitude of external and internal factors. Among them, we include:
- Stress , whether physical or emotional, which can affect hormonal levels and thus disrupt the cycle, leading to late periods while on the pill;
- Significant weight changes , whether weight gain or loss;
- Eating disorders , which can impact hormonal balance;
- Taking medications and hormonal contraceptives , which can modify natural cycles and thus cause a delay in periods, even when taking the pill;
- Travel , especially if it involves a significant time difference;
- Medical conditions , such as polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Each of these factors can influence the regularity of the menstrual cycle, including when taking birth control pills.
The role of the contraceptive pill in the menstrual cycle
How can the birth control pill cause a late period?
The birth control pill plays a major role in regulating the menstrual cycle. It works by releasing synthetic hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, which inhibit ovulation, thereby preventing fertilization.
When you take the pill, the bleeding you notice is not a real period, but withdrawal bleeding caused by the absence of hormones during the week off. This bleeding is generally less heavy than normal periods.
A late period while taking the pill can occur for several reasons:
- Forgotten pills : This can disrupt the hormonal cycle and cause a delay.
- Stopping the pill : The body needs time to regulate its hormone levels, which can delay the return of periods.
- Combined pill : chaining two packs without a break can delay withdrawal bleeding.
he is also possible to delay your period thanks to your choice of contraceptive pills .
“False periods” to reproduce the hormonal cycle? Explanations from Doctor Tardieu
Many birth control pills are designed to be taken for three weeks, then stopped for a week to make way for a period. But periods on the pill are not the consequence of the same phenomenon as a menstrual cycle without taking hormones . These are “false” periods, created to reproduce the hormonal cycle.
Anne-Sylvie Tardieu, gynecologist, explains: “It’s called hormonal deprivation hemorrhage. The pill reproduces a hormonal pattern with three weeks of active hormonal tablets and one week of stopping the hormones, which leads to bleeding from the uterine lining. Menstruation contains cells of the uterine lining which remains thin under the pill. During a cycle without hormonal contraception, the mucosa grows to eventually accommodate an embryo resulting from the fertilization of an oocyte by a sperm. This is the reason why periods on the pill are less heavy than without the pill.”
Stopping the pill and its impact on periods
Stopping the birth control pill may cause changes in the menstrual cycle. After stopping, the body must return to its natural hormonal balance, which can take time. It is therefore normal that the periods do not reappear immediately. The first cycles may be marked by irregularities, more or less heavy bleeding, or even a complete absence of periods.
It is also possible to observe amenorrhea , that is to say an absence of periods for more than 3 months, or 6 months if the cycles were previously irregular.
Did you have late periods while on the pill and would you like to stop it? The impact of stopping the pill on the menstrual cycle varies from woman to woman, depending on several factors, such as the type of pill used and the length of time taken.
The birth control pill and pregnancy: myths and realities
There are many myths surrounding the birth control pill and pregnancy. Among the most common:
- Myth: The pill makes you gain weight.
- Fact: Studies show that birth control pills do not cause significant weight gain. However, some women may experience fluid retention which can cause slight swelling. A late period while on the pill has no connection in any case.
- Myth: The birth control pill is 100% effective.
- Fact: Although the contraceptive pill has high effectiveness, no method of contraception is 100% effective. Factors such as missing a pill can reduce its effectiveness.
- Myth: You cannot get pregnant on the pill.
- Reality: Although rare, it is possible to get pregnant during your period while taking the pill, especially if you forget or take it irregularly. A late period while taking the pill does not mean that you are pregnant.
It is essential to distinguish these myths from realities to understand the role of the contraceptive pill and its relationship with pregnancy.
When should you be concerned if your period is late while taking the pill?
Concern threshold: 1 week, 10 days or 2 months?
Before getting to the heart of the matter, it is essential to understand that the threshold for concern can vary depending on each woman and the regularity of her cycle. In general, a period delay of 10 days while on the pill is considered normal for women with irregular cycles . However, if this delay is unusual, it is recommended to consult a doctor.
If the woman is on the contraceptive pill, a delay in her period while taking the pill for 1 week can occur without this being a cause for concern , especially if she has not forgotten her pill and there are no other warning signs. 'is present.
However, a delay of more than 2 months without identification of the cause is a signal which should prompt you to consult a gynecologist for an assessment. In fact, this may be a sign of hormonal imbalance requiring medical attention.
Late periods on the pill: warning signs not to be ignored
There are several warning signs that should not be overlooked if your period is late while on the pill. The complete absence of periods while on the pill may be a sign of hormonal imbalance or other health problems .
Bleeding between cycles is also a sign that may indicate that the pill is not suitable. You will also need to be attentive to notable changes in your body or your behavior such as:
- Atypical abdominal pain : which can be a sign of a gynecological problem.
- Nausea or vomiting : which can be a sign of pregnancy.
- Unexplained fatigue : which can be a sign of hormonal imbalance.
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse : which can be a sign of an infection or gynecological pathology.
If these signs are present, it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional for a complete evaluation.
Stress and late periods: what is the link?
Can stress block periods?
Yes, stress can indeed disrupt the menstrual cycle and cause a missed period, even in women on the pill . This is because stress acts on the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, which controls the production of sex hormones.
Under intense or prolonged stress, the brain releases stress hormones like cortisol, which can inhibit the release of hormones needed for ovulation and menstruation.
- In situations of acute stress , such as a traumatic event or emotional shock, the period may be delayed by a few days.
- In contrast, when faced with chronic stress , such as constant work pressure or persistent personal problems, periods may be disrupted over a longer period of time, up to several months.
It should be noted that stress can also cause other symptoms, such as mood changes, sleep problems, and digestive problems.
Manage stress to regulate your menstrual cycle
Stress management is a crucial aspect of maintaining a regular menstrual cycle. Chronic stress can destabilize hormonal balance , causing menstrual irregularities such as irregular periods and therefore late periods while on the pill, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or amenorrhea.
Relaxation Practices: It is beneficial to incorporate relaxation activities into your daily routine. Techniques like yoga, meditation or deep breathing can help reduce stress.
Balanced diet: A healthy, balanced diet can help maintain hormonal balance.
Physical Activity: Regular exercise is also a great way to reduce stress.
Quality Sleep: Sufficient, quality sleep is essential for mood regulation and stress management.
Social support: Discussing your concerns with friends, family, or a professional can also help reduce stress.
It is also possible to use natural remedies to help regulate the menstrual cycle and stop late periods while taking the pill. Evening primrose oil, for example, is known for its hormone-regulating properties.
Medical causes of late periods while on the pill
Ovulation and progesterone: understanding their role
Ovulation is a biological mechanism that involves the release of a mature egg from the ovary, usually around day 14 of the menstrual cycle. Ovulation is mainly regulated by luteinizing hormone (LH).
Progesterone, on the other hand, is secreted by the ovary after ovulation . It plays a key role in preparing the endometrium (the inner lining of the uterus) for potential implantation of a fertilized egg. If fertilization does not occur, progesterone levels drop, causing the endometrium to slough off in the form of periods.
On the pill, ovulation is inhibited. Oral contraceptives typically contain a combination of synthetic estrogen and progesterone that mimic the effects of these natural hormones. This tricks the body into thinking that ovulation has already occurred, preventing the release of a new egg. Additionally, synthetic progesterone modifies the endometrium, making it less conducive to implantation.
Thus, the absence or delay of periods while on the pill may be linked to these hormonal mechanisms . Missing a pill, for example, can disrupt this process and lead to a late period.
Medications that can influence the menstrual cycle
In addition to hormonal contraceptives, other medications can affect the menstrual cycle and cause late periods while on the pill. Notably :
- Antidepressants : These can disrupt the menstrual cycle by affecting hormone levels in the body.
- Cancer medications : Some oncology treatments can cause menstrual irregularities or amenorrhea.
- Tranquilizers and blood pressure medications : These medications can also influence the menstrual cycle and potentially delay the return of periods, particularly in new mothers.
- The morning after pill : this pill, which contains a high dose of progestin, can modify the cycle and disrupt ovulation.
It is therefore essential to take into account the possible impact of these medications on the menstrual cycle if you experience late periods while taking contraceptive pills.
Take a pregnancy test: when and how?
Interpreting a negative pregnancy test despite a late period
A negative pregnancy test despite a late period can raise questions. Remember that this test is based on the detection of the hCG hormone in urine. If you miss your period and test negative, you are unlikely to be pregnant . However, several reasons can explain this phenomenon:
- A test carried out too early : the production of the hCG hormone is not immediately detectable after fertilization. It is recommended to perform the test at least one week after the expected period.
- Variations in the menstrual cycle due to stress, lifestyle changes or stopping the pill.
- Post-pill amenorrhea : this is a delay in periods after stopping the pill. Ovulation does not “restart” immediately after stopping the pill.
If after a negative test, your period still does not arrive within a few days, a new test is recommended . If this is also negative and the periods are still not present, a medical consultation is necessary.