How birth control pills Affect Our Menstrual Cycle

How birth control pills Affect Our Menstrual Cycle

The hormonal contraceptive pill, widely used for over six decades as a primary method of contraception, has become essential for around 30% of people in the UK.

I recall that from a young age, many women, including myself and other high school friends were prescribed contraceptive pills, not for due to sexual activity but because of cycle and hormone symptoms, such as acne, undiagnosed endometriosis, heavy bleeding, among others. In my case it was polycystic ovary syndrome.

In this blog we want to explore the basics of the menstrual cycle, help you understand how the contraceptive pill affects the menstrual cycle and if it provides relief from period symptoms.

First things first, what hormones are involved in our menstrual cycle?

The menstrual cycle is a natural hormonal process that occurs to females during her reproductive age. It spans approximately a month and involves various hormonal changes that prepare the body for ovulation. Yup that is right! The goal of our menstrual cycle is ovulation not our period! Ovulation is what is responsible for the production of progesterone. Progesterone is beneficial for so many things, such as, reduces anxiety, supports hair and skin health, supports thyroid function, regulates bleeding during your period and the list goes on…

Key players in the cycle are estrogen, progesterone, Luteinising Hormone (LH), and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). These hormones control the 4 menstrual phases:

  1. Menstrual phase: the part of the follicular phase when your uterine lining sheds. You may feel tired and low energy. Some people also experience changes in sleep digestion, mood or have headaches.
  2. Follicular phase: it includes day one of your period up until ovulation. It’s the phase during which the follicles in your ovaries are developing. As estrogen increases you will start to have more energy, have more confidence and become more sociable.
  3. Ovulation phase: when an egg is released from the ovary into the fallopian tube. This is the absolute best time in your cycle. At ovulation we have lots of energy, focus and our senses are heightened.
  4. Luteal phase: After ovulation, the egg that was released starts to degrade. Hormone levels decrease. This triggers your period. At the start of this phase we are usually still riding the ovulation wave. For many of us as we near and period our we may experience digestive changes, sore breasts, headaches, mood changes, lower energy and cravings.

Our bodies go through different phases each month. Let's have a look at how contraceptive pills affect these phases.

What are the main types of pills and what effects do they have in the menstrual cycle?

There are two main types of hormonal contraceptive pills:


  1. Estrogen: hormone is produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands, and fat tissues
  2. Progestin: synthetic version of progesterone that mimics the naturally occurring hormone

There are different types of birth control methods, and some only release a hormone called progestin. These include the shot, the mini-pill, the implant, and hormonal IUD. On the other hand, there are other methods like the ring, the patch, and the combination pill that release a combination of two hormones, progestin and estrogen.

If we have a look in detail into the pills, we have two types:

  • The combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP) : contains both estrogen and progestins. The COCP prevents pregnancy by stopping the eggs from growing, making the mucus in the cervix thicker, and making the lining of the uterus thinner.
  • The progesterone-only pill (POP): contains only progestin. The POP thickens cervical mucus and may prevent egg release.

These pills are taken orally and release hormones throughout the body via the bloodstream.

When taken correctly, both types of pills suppress ovulation, therefore, your body doesn't go through its natural menstrual cycle.

You might wonder why, even if you're not following the natural menstrual cycle, you still experience bleeding with certain types of contraceptive methods. It's because birth control methods that contain hormones can cause what is known as "withdrawal bleeding" instead of a regular period. This occurs due to the fluctuating levels of hormones introduced into your body.

What key advantages and disadvantages show in relieving period pain?

  • On the positive side, they offer reliable contraception, alleviate menstrual pain, lead to lighter periods, and improve menstrual regularity.

Additionally, they can provide relief for conditions like endometriosis, fibroids, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

  • However, there are also disadvantages to consider. Some potential side effects include spotting, nausea, weight gain, mood changes, among others.

Unfortunately, our society tends to default to prescribing hormonal birth control methods without fully considering the potential impacts on menstruation and overall physical and mental health. This approach is not only problematic but also harmful to people with periods.

At Monthlies we believe that each women deserves personalised, natural period care. Birth control has been simplified as a one-size-fits-all solution, it clearly has some benefits to some people, but there's countless side effects on the other side.

Other Considerations: Long-term fertility is not affected by hormonal contraceptive pill use, although there may be a short delay in returning to fertility after discontinuation. It's crucial to consult with healthcare providers to choose the right contraceptive method based on individual needs and medical history. While contraceptives provide effective pregnancy prevention and period symptom relief, there are still unknowns in the field.

In conclusion, contraceptive pills have revolutionized family planning and offered relief from menstrual symptoms for many individuals. Understanding their effects on the menstrual cycle, advantages, disadvantages, and other considerations empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their reproductive health. It's important to engage in open discussions with healthcare providers to find the most suitable contraceptive option for each person's unique needs and preferences.

We recommend you taking our quiz to see which formula fits you the best. If you still have questions about the products or if that’s for you, do not hesitate to contact us through the live chat or by mail.


Know more about the author:

Laia Camps, a passionate individual with a strong background in communication and marketing, joined Monthlies in 2022 as a Communication Manager. Her expertise in women's health and nutritionism has been instrumental in advancing the organization's mission to assist women globally.
In a personal note, she loves surfing, running and eating pepperoni pizza :))



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Medical News Today. 10 most common birth control pill side effects (2020)

Mu E, Kulkarni J. Hormonal contraception and mood disorders (2022)