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Home / Contraception / Mini Pill / Does the mini pill stop my period?

Does the mini pill stop my period?

Learn how the progesterone-only pill affects your menstrual cycle and could cause irregular bleeding

The mini pill is a highly effective form of hormonal contraception that comes in two different types:

  • traditional mini pill (such as Noriday)
  • desogestrel mini pill (such as Cerazette)

It is, however, much less popular than the combined contraceptive pill despite the fact that it has fewer health risks.

This lack of popularity is thought to come down to a common side effect of the mini pill: irregular bleeding or spotting.

A woman holding a blister pack of hormonal birth control pills

Keep reading to find out how the mini pill affects your cycle, why it causes breakthrough bleeding, and whether it can stop your period altogether.

Is it normal to bleed on the mini pill?

In short - it’s normal to bleed on the mini pill, but it’s also normal to not bleed.

The mini pill primarily works by thickening the cervical mucus - however, it can also stop your period.

This varies from person to person. Some women might still have regular periods on the mini-pill whilst others won’t bleed at all.

For example, the traditional mini pill only stops ovulation around 60% Trusted source NHS inform Government Source Scotland's National Health Information Service Go to source of the time. So most women will experience periods but not every single month.

The desogestrel mini pill, on the other hand, stops ovulation 97% Trusted source NHS inform Government Source Scotland's National Health Information Service Go to source of the time. This POP is much more likely to stop your period altogether, however, the occasional period is still considered normal.

If you do get your period when taking the mini pill, it will most likely be during the first week of your pill pack.

How can the mini pill stop my period?

Progesterone in the mini pill is able to stop you from ovulating, which stops your period.

In order for ovulation to take place, you require certain levels of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone).

Both of these hormones play important roles in the menstrual cycle:

  • FSH stimulates follicles in the ovaries to produce an egg each month
  • LH is responsible for the release of this egg during ovulation

Progesterone in the mini pill suppresses the amount of LH that is released from the pituitary gland (a part of the brain). This stops an egg from being released.

In comparison, the combined pill suppresses both LH and FSH. Because of this, ovulation and periods are always prevented.

Mini pill Combined pill
Does it always prevent ovulation?
Does it contain oestrogen?
Does it contain progesterone?
Does it suppress FSH?
Does it suppress LH?

Can the mini pill cause heavier bleeding?

It is more common for the mini pill to make your periods lighter. However, it is also possible that on occasion you may have a heavier period than normal.

Due to the fluctuating levels of hormones this factor is slightly unpredictable and differs from woman to woman.

How soon after stopping the mini pill can my period return?

Your regular period should return after roughly 4 weeks of stopping the mini pill.

Once the extra hormones have left your body, you should get your regular monthly periods back, along with PMS symptoms. You will also be able to get pregnant again.

Why am I bleeding randomly on the mini pill?

The main reason that women stop taking the mini pill is due to random bleeding. This includes breakthrough bleeding and spotting, or constant bleeding.

Breakthrough bleeding

Because the mini pill thins the uterus lining, you are more likely to experience irregular shedding (referred to as breakthrough bleeding).

This is random or unexpected bleeding that happens mid-cycle (when you are not experiencing a period).

It is a very common side effect of the POP. According to one study Trusted source PubMed Government Source Database of Biomedical Research Go to source :

20-30% of women noticed spotting or breakthrough bleeding

Constant or prolonged bleeding

Similarly, it is also common to experience prolonged bleeding when you start taking the POP. This is when you spot or bleed constantly for up to 3 weeks at a time.

According to another study Trusted source PubMed Government Source Database of Biomedical Research Go to source :

33-50% of women experienced prolonged menstruation

Whilst both of the above can be an inconvenience, they are generally just signs that your body needs more time to adjust to the hormones. Try to be patient and know that it is entirely normal.

Can I stop breakthrough bleeding?

Irregular bleeding on the mini pill tends to go away with time. Your body should adapt to the hormonal changes within 6 months of use.

However, you can take some steps to help control breakthrough bleeding during this period:

  1. Take the pill at the same time every day - even small differences in timing can cause your hormone levels to fluctuate and cause breakthrough bleeding.
  2. Take 2 pills a day instead of 1 - if you still experience irregular bleeding try doubling your dose. Speak to your GP about this as you will use up your prescription faster.
  3. Don’t try taking a break - unlike the combined pill, stopping your mini pill when you experience breakthrough bleeding will only worsen the problem.

Can I skip my period on the mini pill?

Unfortunately, the mini pill does not give you the option to skip a period. However, after your body adapts to it there’s a chance that you will stop having your period entirely - although this is not guaranteed.

If you would prefer to have the option of skipping or delaying your period for certain, you might prefer the combined pill.

Speak to your doctor about this contraceptive option as it has a higher risk of developing certain health conditions such as blood clots.

Alternatively, you can take Primolut N (which contains 5 mg of norethisterone) if you want to delay your period on the odd occasion.

This is another form of progesterone that is primarily used for period delay. It is not another form of hormonal contraception and does not protect you against pregnancy,

Want to take pills for period delay?

Click here

Norethisterone is safe to take for mini pill users and women who aren’t on hormonal contraception.

How can different types of pill affect my period?

Graphic showing the different pills that affect periods

To sum up, the following table shows how the mini pill, combined pill, and period delay pills can affect your menstrual cycle:

The combined pill The mini pill Norethisterone
What hormones are in it? Oestrogen and progesterone Progesterone Progesterone
Can you skip your period on it? Yes No Yes
Does it stop ovulation? Yes Sometimes No
Does it prevent pregnancy? Yes Yes No

Finding the best contraceptive for you can be challenging. However, sticking with the mini pill for at least 6 months might be worthwhile in the long run.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana Written by our editorial team Last reviewed 21-07-2024
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Further reading

What are the side effects of the desogestrel mini-pill?

What are the side effects of the desogestrel mini-pill?

Reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana
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