Can hormonal contraception help with period problems?
Yes, hormonal contraception is very good at reducing period pain and helping with heavy periods
Some methods make periods regular (the combined pill, patch, ring)
Taking hormonal contraception with no breaks can also stop periods –this does no harm to future fertility. Find out more about hormones here
Is it harmful to delay a period or to have no periods?
No, it’s not harmful at all - blood doesn’t build up inside the body - the womb lining stays thin with continuous hormonal contraception, so there’s no need to have a period
There are some benefits to stopping periods - less bleeding helps to save iron (blood loss during periods can lead to anaemia)
Does stopping periods mean it’s hard to get pregnant in future?
No - stopping periods with continuous hormonal contraception has no effect on future fertility. It’s naturally harder to get pregnant with age (from age 35 it’s a bit harder; over age 40 it becomes even more difficult)
It can take several months to get periods back after using the injection, but all other methods are quickly out of the body within a few days
Is it necessary to have a period every month?
No –period blood is not ‘bad blood’ – period blood is darker because it comes out slower than bleeding from a cut for example
If a person wants to delay periods on the combined pill, patch or vaginal ring, it’s a good idea to have a period every three months, otherwise spotting can happen (although this is not harmful)
Find out more about how the body works here
What's right for you?
Will contraception cause irregular bleeding?
Quite a few methods (mini-pill; implant; injection; IUS) might cause irregular bleeding: it can be unpredictable, and may be light, or may be heavy.
The contraception will still work to prevent pregnancy, but bleeding can be a real nuisance
Irregular bleeding with hormonal contraception can happen because the womb lining usually builds up and then comes out during a period – with hormonal contraception, the womb lining stays the same, but the body sheds the lining unpredictably
Does irregular bleeding have any long term effects on health or fertility?
Irregular bleeding due hormonal contraception does not mean that there is anything wrong, and it makes no difference to the chances of getting pregnant in future
Irregular bleeding might settle with time
Irregular bleeding from the implant, IUS (hormonal coil) or mini-pill usually stops a few days after coming off the method
After the injection, irregular periods or bleeding can go on for much longer
What can be done about irregular bleeding?
It’s important to rule out other causes first – for example Sexually Transmitted Infections, or (very rarely) cancers or hormone regulation problems
If irregular bleeding is due to the contraception method, taking the pill temporarily alongside methods, such as the implant or IUS, might help
See a doctor or nurse for advice on this