Approximately 99 percent of obstetricians and gynecologists believe that suppressing a menstrual period through the use of birth control pills is safe, according to a 2003 Gallop survey conducted by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. With their doctor's support and reassurances, more women are considering this option for themselves. However, before implementing this approach, all women should take time to learn about potential side effects.
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Bleeding or spotting in between menstrual periods, also referred to breakthrough bleeding, may be more common for women who use birth control pills to delay or suppress their periods. The frequency and amount of this bleeding will vary depending upon the individual woman, but often the flow is light and brownish in color. Although many women find delaying or surpressing their periods convenient, this breakthrough bleeding can be anything but. However, the University of Michigan Health Systems suggests that allowing a menstrual cycle to occur at least once every three to four months may lessen the frequency or intensity of this bleeding. It also may lessen as the woman's body adjusts to the hormones, explains the Mayo Clinic. However, any breakthrough bleeding that is particularly intense or bothersome should be reported to a doctor.
There is always an increased risk of developing blood clots while taking oral contraceptives, whether or not the medication is being used to delay menstruation. The Mayo Clinic lists the warning signs of a blood clots as severe abdominal pain, coughing up blood, loss of vision, eye blurring, severe leg pain, shortness of breath or chest pain. Any woman experiencing any of these symptoms while on the birth control pill should contact a doctor immediately.
Oral Contraceptive Side Effects
The side effects that occur with oral contraception are possible regardless of the schedule used, even when a woman uses the pill as a way to delay her menstrual period. The common side effects of birth control pills include breast tenderness, acne, bloating, nausea, headache, mood changes, leg cramps, weight changes and dark spots on the face, explains the Mayo Clinic.
Positive Side Effects
Not all effects that occur when using birth control pills to delay a period are unwelcome. There are many positive side effects that also occur. These include a reduction or elimination of the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome as well as few perimenopausal symptoms. Menstrual migraines, endometriosis and acne can also be reduced. Also, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals states that there is also an increased feeling of well-being for many women.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Gallop Survey Press Release
- University of Michigan Health Systems: An End to Periods?
- Mayo Clinic: Delaying Your Period Through Oral Contraceptives
- Association of Reproductive Health Professionals: Understanding Menstrual Supression
- Association of Reproductive Health Professionals: Menstrual Supression Interactive Tool