Is prolonged bleeding normal after starting birth control?

Q: Is it natural to have prolonged periods after just starting birth control? I started taking the pill when I started my period and it still persists.

A: Irregular bleeding is the most common side effect of birth control pills.  It is especially common during the first three months as your body adjusts to the hormones in the medication.  However, other things (like sexually transmitted infections) can cause prolonged bleeding too.  If the bleeding is especially heavy (more than a normal period), persists throughout the whole month or occurs only with intercourse – especially if you’ve stopped using condoms – you should see your women’s health care provider to make sure nothing more serious is going on.

The most common cause of irregular bleeding is missed pills, so make sure you are taking the pill every day, and at the same time every day.

Birth control pills can cause a lot of other side effects, especially bloating, nausea and breast tenderness.  Most side effects resolve after a few months, but the clinicians in our Women’s Services Department usually recommend that you check in with your health care provider after your first 3 months on the pill to make sure everything is going OK.  If you have any questions or concerns about birth control, they’re happy to answer them for you.

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

116 thoughts on “Is prolonged bleeding normal after starting birth control?

  1. Hi there…
    Please tell me how to stop this prolonged period nonsense as i have been through like 3 packs of pads and 3 boxes of tampons since i started using birth control and this is getting ridiculous…

    • Hi i am 36 year old unmarried ,from January 2017 i have my period upto may month ,shown gynecologist they said reduce weight as i hv some harmonal issue..from oct its started and again still going on with clots …i have low ferritin,vit d3 and high thyroid ..please suggest me what to do? M tired now

  2. Hi, I haven’t taken the pill for a really long time & I just got off my period maybe a week ago? Anyways, I’ve just started bleeding? Would that have anything to do with the pill? It’s just not as heavy as usual & i should mention I have had unprotected sex since my period!

  3. Hi,
    I have been on the pill for a while now and i get my period once every three months. This time however, i got it almost a month early. I had brown discharge for about a week and then started my period. I took a few pregnanct tests and they came out negative. I did get my pills a little later from the doctor so i took my sunday and monday pills on monday. Is that maybe the cause?

  4. I’m taking the combination pill to regulate my period (I have PCOS). I started taking it three months ago. This week, I got my period differently than the other times. I’m only on my second day, but bleeding it different (less) than the other times I’ve gotten my period using the pill.
    I’ve also been using the pill as a contraceptive.
    Why did my period change? Is this normal? Am I pregnant? Should I be worried?

  5. Hi I am 22 years old and I have irregular periods since beginning. I have been through many treatments allopathic, homeopathic etc but till the time I take medicine it’s fine else it’s all same.. Now I am having periods after 3-4 months and it’s been 15 days in continuation. Should I be worried and again go back to those pills ar should I let it bleed.
    Thank you in advance

  6. so i have a question. i started orysthia about a month and a half ago. i took it for 2 weeks and then i stopped it for about 9 days cuz me and my boyfriend were thinking about having kids. i know it was stupid to stop in the middle. so then i started it again. i am on the 4th day of the sugar pills and i still havent gotten my period. i was on the pill also last summer. i stopped taking it due to insurance reasons around july. i then decided to start it up again a month and a half ago. my boyfriend pulls out every time. i wanted to know when i will be expecting my period and he wants to know when he wont have to pull out cuz he says its a pain in the a** to constantly pull out cuz he is scared he is going to just “let go” inside of me by mistake.

    • Pulling out is a very ineffective form of birth control. I can assure you this is true as my youngest child’s father believed it… and yet, she exists. You might want to take a pregnancy test.

  7. Question. I have been taking my birth control for about 2 months and I’m on my third now. I have been taking it continuously without the sugar pills. The first 1 and half months I wasn’t bleeding at all. Now I have been nonstop bleeding for about a month now,and it isn’t spotting. I have been bleeding heavily and when i called the doctor twice the nurse over the phone told me it was normal. Is this normal?

    • I was wondering the same thing. I started this birth control called (Levono-e Estrada 0.15 -0.03-0) the whole name is Levonorgestrel / Ethinyl Estradiol 13 weeks Contraceptive – oral. This is the second time I’ve been on this birth control and now both times I have had problems with it the doctor told me that it was fine that I believe for 3 months but after that then I might have to change the birth control pill it’s been 14 days now non stop bleeding. I have a period cramps, pain in my back, upset stomachs, and headaches. The some of the side effects and what medicines you should not be taken with this medicine. And I’m on two medicines that should not be taken with this birth control. But still the doctor said it’s ok. They keep trying to force the birth control Marina on me. But the last time I had a birth control that went up inside me give me an infection so bad that they diagnosed it as PID. And with this one if you read the side effects you should not use it if you have diabetes or prone to yeast infections which I have a lot due to the diabetes. I just don’t know what to do anymore I either take the birth control pill that causes really bad cramps my whole body hurts and heavy bleeding so much that I bleed all over myself all is home or a birth control pill with non stop bleeding I’m confused on what to do I have really really bad. Really bad pains if somebody knows something that will help me please write back.

    • Please find another doctor a second opinion! Preferably a Planned Parenthood if they’re around you. That can help you a lot out when it comes to birth control. But for you to hear something that makes you uncomfortable while you know that it doesn’t feel right to you is a smart at all. Doctors are here for recommendation and even with all the education they can sometimes be wrong and get caught up in there either. Please remember they are humans at the end of the day! I’m pretty sure you will feel better about getting a second opinion and possibly getting a better or more informed answer them something going wrong and it being too late and your doctor shrugging his shoulders. Please educate yourself as much as you can personally to go to him with questions. I promise you won’t you catch a doctor up in something they’re really not sure about you’ll understand that you care more about you than they do and that’s just that. This doctor clearly is playing off of you not really knowing what’s going on and that’s just not safe!

    • Im having the same issues from puttsburgh pa dr says its normal. Gotta take the pill at the same time everyday he tells me

  8. So I got these birth control pills and I’m new too them, so I took them right when I started my period on February 26 and I’m still going. My period won’t stop it’s been two weeks so far. Is it normal? What should I do. My period isn’t heavy it’s light, but it freaks me out can anyone help me?

    • I have the same issue but it’s been 3 weeks now. I talked to my doctor and they do say it’s normal but if you are soaking through overnight pads, then go to the ER. If not, it will take a couple months for your body to get used to the pill and to take 800 mg of Ibuprofen to lessen the bleeding. I don’t take Ibuprofen due to stomach ulcer issues so I am just going to ride it out. If it doesn’t stop after another 10 days, I am calling my doctor again!

  9. I started birth control about 2 months ago… march was my 3rd month on birth control. My period started on March 9 and it is still on and today is march 30th my period is light and I get cramps every now and then. I have an appointment with my doctor coming up soon but I still wondering what could it be???

  10. Hello I’m a 30 yr old female and I have been on my period for 26 days straight. Same times its light then its heavy. I have been on the mini pill birth control and have been taking it before getting pregnant (2013) then back on after and have been on sense. I recently ran out of birth control a month and half ago going two weeks without any. Once I started back on the birth control the day after I started my period. Now 26 days later I’m still bleeding. Tonight I had a weird blood clot that came out the size of a quarter, some that fell in the toilet and then some pieces when I wiped. The lady at the Obgyn clinic says its pretty normal sense I stopped for 2 weeks after ended the last doses to starting back up on them again. But I have always had regular periods sense my pre-teen years. Not in all my life have I ever bleed this much and this long sense after pregnancy. I’m worried because I’m starting to feel real fatigued, tired and having a hard time staying awake in the mid day. I’m afraid I’m loosing a lot of iron with all this bleeding and feel like this is not normal.. Not for me anyways. The lady told me that by Monday if it hasn’t stopped I’m going in for a irregular bleeding. Is this a normal thing?

    • Hi Gina how did you go in the end? I’m in the same situation day 25 of me period ? I went to the doctor and she didn’t really say anything! I’ve been on the pill now for 4 months, she said it can take up to 6 months for my body to get used to it. I just want this period gone, one minute I think it’s going thennext minute it’s intense. I’m only only the pill for my PCOS.

  11. I’ve just started my birth control and about 2 weeks in I started bleeding. It’s constant like a period even though I just got off my period like a week before I started the pill. My periods last about 5-6 days being it’s lightest on the 5
    1st, 5th, & 6th. The blood has been the same since the first day I started bleeding.

  12. I’m a 32 year old woman with PCOS and diabetes. I was put on the pill to regulate my periods and treat my PCOS. Before being on the pill I had a period about every 3 months or so. I took my first pack of pills and when I got to the placebo pills I started bleeding so heavily that I had to go to the hospital. Since then I have seen 3 doctors, been on 3 different birth control pills with 5 different levels of hormones and have been nonstop bleeding for 2 months and 6 days. Sometimes it’s light, sometimes it’s so heavy and I get large blood clots and horrible cramps. Yesterday the doctors made me get a biopsy to make sure I don’t have endometrial cancer or polyps. Haven’t heard back yet, so I’m pretty anxious, but really I think my bleeding has to do with all the birth controls and amount of hormones in my body. I just came here to see if something like this has happened to anyone else. There’s gotta be someone that has gone through something similar. I firmly believe it’s these pills making me bleed for so long. It’s so awful. I just want to stop bleeding but no one can figure out what’s happening or believes me that it is the pills doing this.

    • Hi meg I am 22 and also diagnosed with pcos i was also put on pills and its been 12 days since ive started taking pills and my menstruation started, and my red days still continue up to this moment. Just wanna ask did you experience the same thing? Is it normal?

  13. I started taking the OCP on the first day of my period. Its my first time taking it. Its been 2 weeks and I’m still bleeding. The idea of the pill was to enjoy sex without having to worry about pregnancy yet but I can’t have sex talk more of enjoying it with this bleeding. Its really frustrating. Please does anyone know how long tyhe bleeding will last? is it also advisable to stop the pill now as I no longer wish to keep bleeding. If I stop will there be any side effects or somehting? Thanks

  14. I’ve been on birth control for 9 years now and switched brands a year ago. My last period was a month ago. I’m on the extended birth control so I only have a period 4 times a year. So my last period was a month ago and I’m not suppose to have another for 2 more months but I just randomly started spotting all week last Monday and I’m going on 7 days. Does anyone know why? Or had this happened to you?

    • Depending on what brand you switched from, the newer pill may have a lower estrogen content than your first pill. I also do not know how long you have been using your new pill and if you take it every day at the same time. These are the typical issues for breakthrough bleeding (bleeding or spotting on active pills): 1. One pill or more was missed, 2. You recently started a new birth control (Doctor’s recommend giving it a trial period of 3 months for your body to adjust to the new birth control-spotting is normal during this period), 3. the new birth control you switched to does not have a high enough estrogen level to regulate your natural cycle. I recommend calling your doctor or pharmacist to have your question answered!

  15. Hello, I am in the same boat i Started my period May 10th (wed) and started BC on May 14th (Sun) and I havn’t stop bleeding then is this I missed the pill for the first time today took it right away, now i don’t know what is going on it doesn’t stop is this even normal. The Dr. says is normal that it might take up to 2 months but this is ridiculous. I need answers this sucks!!!!

  16. I started my birth control on a Monday of this month and one week of me taking it I started bleeding very heavily I have been on my period since with my stomach cramping so bad and me feeling light headed and very tired I don’t know what to do about it it’s ridiculous to feel like this especially being on my period for two weeks and my period normally lasts 5-6 days is this normal or what??

  17. I just started the pill on July 13th 2017, today is July 20th 2017. I started it on my period and usually I have a semi heavy flow that lasts for about 5 days but now my period is super light but it’s my 8th day. I don’t mind holding it out until my period regulates since this is a side effect and my body should adapt after a few months but I was wondering if anyone knew how long my period would last until my body adapts to it?

  18. My period start july 21 and i also started taking pills, but after 5 tablets i stopped using it. 11 days passed and I’m still bleeding. Is it normal? Because my period last only 3-4 days.

  19. Hey there,
    I started the progesterone only pill around a month ago and forgot to take it for around 5 hours. I then had my regular period however when it should have stopped (7 days) it instead continued on for 13 days. After finishing my first pack of pills I decided to change the time I take it from 5pm to 9pm and i think because of this I triggered my period again – only a week after my 13 day long one.

    Basically I was just wondering if this is normal or a cause for concern? I’ve only ever had one partner so I know this couldn’t have been caused by an STD or something like that.

    If anyone could help me out or say if they’ve been through something similar that would be great!!

    • The progesterone only pill needs to be taken at the same exact time every single day. If it is not, 1. you will have breakthrough bleeding as you have found out, but more importantly, 2. you increase your chances of getting pregnant significantly. I don’t mean to scare you by any means, but I think you should know the possibilities of not taking that particular pill at the same time every day is. I don’t know your exact situation but if you have the funds (or the insurance) and do not want to deal with an estrogen combo pill- I suggest switching to the progesterone only iud. The reason I am saying this is because it will eliminate the issue of potentially forgetting to take the pill and it will deliver the progesterone hormone to you at the same time every day. This being said, the progesterone IUD has actually shown to decrease periods over time and in some cases eliminate them entirely. If controlling your period is important to you, another option is switching to the combination pill (estrogen and progesterone). These have a little more leeway when it comes to what time you take it every day. They are still the most effective when taken at the same time every day, but they will not (usually) cause you breakthrough bleeding if you take it one hour after your scheduled time. If you are still having super long periods, I suggest calling a pharmacist or your doctor and they should be able to answer your question.

  20. I’ve been on birth control since last year September 2016 and now its August 2017 and I am still on my periods everyday, I went to the woman’s clinic and they gave me pills to take for 21 days and my periods stopped for two days, please help what should I do. I have stopped the injection in April

    • Goodness, that sounds rough! If I were in your position and had the means, I would try to make an appointment with a gynecologist you can see regularly. It takes a while for you to find a birth control that works well for you and it helps if you can go back to the same doctor so they know what you have tried and what other options there are to still try. My personal opinion regarding your situation would be to make a doctor’s appointment and have a few tests run to rule out any infections or underlying health conditions. After all of those have been ruled out, then work on finding a birth control method that helps you regulate your periods so you aren’t bleeding every day. There is one out there that will work with you!! But I would definitely make an appointment with a doctor as soon as you can, especially if you are still bleeding.

  21. Hi! I started taking the pill 10 days ago. My period lasted like it regularly does (about 5 days). On day 3 and 4 I missed my pills and I followed the instructions and took both pills as soon as I realized I had missed them.

    I have not missed one since that day but im still light spotting.

    Is this normal?

    • Yes, this is normal. Unfortunately, when you skip a day (or two) you may spot throughout the month. Everything usually goes back to normal after you have your scheduled period. If you still have questions, speaking to a pharmacist might be your fastest answer. Or if you can get a hold of your doctor, they should be able to answer your question as well.

  22. I came off the pull Creole about 4 months back as I found out I was pregnant at 34 wks. And at 36 weeks a scan confirm haow many weeks I was so was taken off, all the time I was on it since Nov 2016 I had no period and must say I have paid also. Any way our little boy is doing well and I went back on the pill but changed to zella a or something like zell*****. As I wasn’t happy having no periods. Started my periods on 1 Aug after having lots of discharge after c section and had it period for 11 days. Had 14 days of then came back on Aug 27th for 16 days had 4 days off and came back on 16th for 9 days. They fade and come back heavy. I told the nurse and dr wen I went for more pills. They said bout trying a new.pill.bit it would stop my period. I wasn’t happy in doing that again. So dr suggested taken 2 mini pills (zell*****) every morning instead of the one as it would slow down my period days. Has anyone else been told to do this? I mist say have have moved and have a different doctor and different family planning doctor. I could have the coil but not liking the idea and I cannot have injection as I am trying to loose weight with this pcos. But the FP dr said that We could try and I said I will think about both.

  23. Just to answer a few questions I’ve seen frequently on this thread: I started on birth control pills about a year ago, and I had similar issues. My doctor started me on pills with the lowest amount of hormones. I took the entire pack and my first period came when it should have. But it didn’t stop after the normal 7 days. It seriously went on for WEEKS. I decided to check back in with my doctor and ask what was going on. She basically told me there was nothing to worry about and then prescribed me new birth control pills that contained a higher dosage of hormones. My period stopped immediately and the new pills have regulated my period perfectly ever since. Just ask your doctor if you are having any issues.

    • Thank you Sydney! I needed to see your post. I started BC pills a month ago to stop my periods, but have been on my period for 2 weeks now. I emailed my doc this morning. Maybe she will prescribe me a higher dose hormone. Fingers crossed!

  24. I started taking birth control pills around a month ago and finished a pack of Alysena 28 days. I am two pills into a new pack and around 9 days ago I started my period. I don’t take the sugar pills because my period was incredibly heavy and irregular and painful. I had extremely heavy periods for two or three days on regular only every 3-4 months. I’m wondering what I should do to stop my period which is in fact lighter than before, still a little painful and it has a lot of lining, but it is annoying and it helped fill a garbage can full of pads. So how long should the bleeding last and is it normally this long for the second month? Should I take the inactive sugar pills?

  25. I started using birth control patches again for the first time back in October and when it was time for my period to come around it was very light, but the thing is my menstrual usually lasts about 5-6 days. But now it’s been 8 days and it hasn’t stopped. It’s still very light and all, but I’m not sure if this is a side affect because this has happened to me before and it felt like forever until my menstrual was over.

    • Has it stopped for you now, Jae? I’m facing the exact same problem as you right now. My period started off dark, and then progressed to lighter red. The flow is much smaller than usual but is been 2 weeks so I’m worried.

    • I’ve had birth control for 6 months and I have my period every other 2 days or so and I’m not sure if there’s something wrong or what I’m not sure what to do

  26. Hi I took a 3month birth control injection on the 9the of last month ever since den hv bn having bleeding once or twice every week pls is its normal

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