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What is birth control?
Birth control comes in many forms. One of the most common is hormonal birth control pills — which use various combinations of estrogen, progesterone, or synthetic hormones to prevent pregnancy. You may take the pill every day, with placebo pills during your period; receive a shot; or utilize some form of implant.
Many women take birth control as a form of family planning and contraceptive. Others take it as a way to manage other health issues, such as uterine fibroids or hormonal imbalance. While some forms of birth control suppress menstrual periods, many regulate it. On many forms of birth control, you will still have your regular menstrual period. Birth control may even make your period more consistent.
It can be stressful to miss your period, especially when you’re taking your birth control consistently. There are several reasons why you might miss your period on birth control, including stress, changes in diet or lifestyle, changes in exercise routine, or the long-term effects of using birth control.
If you miss your period, you should consider taking a pregnancy test and following up with your doctor to determine any underlying causes.
Symptoms of missed period on birth control
When you miss your period on birth control, it is important to be aware of other symptoms. A missed period may occur in tandem with symptoms that are similar to premenstrual symptoms or early pregnancy, such as:
If you miss your period and experience any additional symptoms, plan on taking a pregnancy test and following up with your primary care physician.
Causes of missed period on birth control
There are several potential causes of a missed period when you’re taking birth control. They may include:
Stress is one of the most common causes of a missed period. Research shows that women under stress during their cycle are much more likely to experience irregular or missed periods.
Stress has a significant impact on the hormones within your body. These hormones have the ability to create changes or a delay in your menstrual period.
Changes in diet and exercise
If you are incorporating new or increased physical activity into your regular activity, it may be disrupting your menstrual cycle. Prolonged periods of intense exercise can alter your hormone levels, leading to missed or suppressed menstruation.
Significant weight loss can lead to lighter or missed periods. The presence of fat in your body can increase the level of specific hormones in your body. Losing dramatic amounts of weight will impact your hormone levels. This often leads to irregular periods and can be an underlying cause of a missed period on birth control.
Long-term effects of continuous birth control
Many women use birth control pills as their contraceptive method of choice. Some women who use continuous birth control — or birth control that limits periods to a few times a year — may experience very irregular periods or no periods at all.
Hypothyroidism directly affects hormone levels. Women who experience hypothyroidism almost always have irregular menstrual cycles.
Even if you are on birth control, a missed period can be a sign of pregnancy. Birth control pills have a failure rate of just under 10%. If you have missed a period or are experiencing other symptoms of pregnancy, you should consider taking a pregnancy test or talking to your doctor.
Diagnosing missed period on birth control
If you are experiencing missed periods and other symptoms, your doctor will likely start with a physical exam. They may also evaluate any underlying causes with a:
Treatments for missed period on birth control
If you are experiencing one or more missed periods, your doctor will likely conduct an exam and recommend tests to determine the underlying cause. They will suggest a treatment plan, depending on the results. Treatment may include:
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BMC Women's Health: "Factors associated with menstrual cycle irregularity and menopause."
Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism: "Stress and hormones."
Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research: "To Evaluate the Effect of Perceived Stress on Menstrual Function."
Medicine: "Effects of intensive training on menstrual function and certain serum hormones and peptides related to the female reproductive system."
Postgraduate Medical Journal: "The missed menstrual period."
Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management: "Evaluation of extended and continuous use oral contraceptives."
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