Is it normal to get bleeding when using active birth control pills?

Breakthrough bleeding during the first few months of using birth control pills is common


Breakthrough bleeding refers to any unscheduled bleeding that occurs even though you are using active birth control pills (or patches and rings). If the bleeding is light, there’s no reason to be worried. Breakthrough bleeding is quite common, especially during the first six months using birth control, as your body is still adapting to the hormonal changes. In fact, it is the most common reported side effect with hormonal birth control. 

The degree of the breakthrough bleeding can range from light discharge to bleeding which resembeles normal menstruation. 

Order safe and effective birth control

Product Img
Lessina from $57.00
Product Img
Cryselle from $219.00
Product Img
Enskyce from $109.00
Product Img
Kelnor from $59.00
View all treatments

How can I stop breakthrough bleeding?

There is really nothing you can do but wait patiently for your body to acclimate to the treatment, and for the bleeding to stop in its own.  Keep on taking the birth control as prescribed, and breakthrough bleeding will usually resolve in 2-3 cycles.  If the bleeiding does persist longer, it should at least become less pronounced over time.

If breakthrough bleeding persists for more than 2-3 cycles, or becomes more intense, it’s recommended that you see your doctor to evaluate for other causes.

If bleeding is heavy — such as filling one pad or tampon per hour for consecutive hours - or if bleeding is accompanied by lightheadedness or shotness of breath, you should seek medical help right away. 

You should bear in mind that some medications can interact with hormonal birth control and increase the risk of bleeding. Therefore, it’s important to tell your doctor about any new medications you are taking. Conversely, when a doctor prescribes new medications for you, you should ask whether they’ll interfere with your birth control.

Does skipping periods cause breakthrough bleeding? 

For some women, breakthrough bleeding occurs each time they want to skip a period. If breakthrough bleeding persists for longer than five months, talk to your doctor about putting you on a different birth control pill. There are many different options, and sometimes it takes two or three tries to find the right pill.  

When taking an extnded cyle pill, or when trying to skp your period, tt is a good idea to allow for a period every 2 to 3 months, either by stopping the pills, or by using inactive pills. Such a break, which can last 4-7 days, will reduce the chances of getting breakthrough bleeding when you are on active pills.

Missed or late pills are another common reason for breakthrough bleeding.

Missed or late pills can also cause breakthrough bleeding, which is why it’s important to adhere to the prescribed schedule.  Taking ithe medication at the same time esch day will make missing a dose less likely.  This can in turn prevent breahthrouhgh bleeding and ensure optimal protection against pregnancy.  You can remind yourself to take the pill by setting an alarm on your phone, or combining pill taking with a daily ritual, such as tooth brushing.

Is breakthrough bleeding more common with progestin-only pills?

Yes, taking progestin-only pills instead of combined pills makes it slightly more likely that you get irregular spotting and bleeding during the first three to six months.  However, you’ll notice a gradual improvement, and after six months, the breakthrough bleeding will have disappeared entirely. If you still experience bleeding beyond the sixth month of using progestin-only pills, there may be some other cause. It is recommended that you consult your gynecologist or general doctor.



  1. Villavicencio, Jennifer, and Rebecca H Allen. “Unscheduled Bleeding and Contraceptive Choice: Increasing Satisfaction and Continuation Rates.” Open Access Journal of Contraception, vol. 7, 31 Mar. 2016, pp. 43–52,, 10.2147/OAJC.S85565. Accessed 9 Jun 2020.
  2. Wright, Kristen Page, and Julia V Johnson. “Evaluation of Extended and Continuous Use Oral Contraceptives.” Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management, vol. 4, no. 5, 2008, pp. 905–11, Accessed 9 Jun. 2020.

Buy birth control from Medzino, a discreet and convenient service to save you hassle


Complete a quick consultation, choose a FDA
approved treatment and get it shipped for free.

Free shipping on all orders

Your trusted online doctor

Free shipping on all orders
Order now for delivery on Wednesday