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What is a withdrawal bleed?

What is a withdrawal bleed?

This is going to sound silly, but I don’t understand what a withdrawal bleed is. I’m on the pill and I understand that they happen when I stop taking it, but how is that any different to a normal period?

Hey sister! There is no such thing as a stupid question here! Withdrawal bleeding is a confusing topic, and only recently have more of us on the pill even realised that they aren’t the same as your typical period.

The key differences you need to know are:

  • You don’t need to have a withdrawal bleed every month
  • As long as you take your contraception as directed you are typically protected from becoming pregnant while having a withdrawal bleed
  • Withdrawal bleeds are typically shorter and lighter than typical periods

So what is a withdrawal bleed?

Withdrawal bleeds happen when you take a break from the combined pill, vaginal rings, patches or injections that often work on three-weekly cycles. When you stop taking your contraception your body experiences a drop in hormone levels. The drop in hormones causes your body to produce period blood and mucus.

Withdrawal actually refers to this drop in hormones. Contraceptive pills stop the uterine lining thickening, meaning that withdrawal bleeds typically feel lighter than our general periods and can even cause no bleeding or just light spotting.

Contrary to popular belief, withdrawal bleeding is not necessary. You can continue to take your contraception as normal without monthly breaks. Many opt to have withdrawal bleeds, so they know that they are not pregnant.



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