Make it stop
August 31, 2009 5:33 PM   Subscribe

I'm on Ocella birth control (generic Yasmin) and I've been having a really painful, heavy period for almost 5 weeks now and I'm getting pret-teee sick of it.

It's probably my fault, as when the pack was over I skipped one yellow pill then immediately went into a new pack, instead of doing the 7-day sugar pill thing. I used to do that on Yasmin and it was no problem. Oh well. That was 5 weeks ago. The last few days it's been stopping briefly then starting up again. ARG. I can't stand these cramps any more.

You are not my doctor, but even though I have insurance I can't afford to see her unless I know there's something she can do for me. Am I going to get something other than a shrug and a lecture? Cause I really don't have enough money to spend on that. Can she give me some kind of magic pill that will make it stop?
posted by amethysts to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
can you call and talk to a nurse without going to the dr?

it looks like quite a few people experience breakthrough bleeding at first with ocella. like all BCP, it seems the recommendation is that you give it 3 months and if you're still having problems to go to the doctor.

if the bleeding is actually heavy (instead of just, OMG WHY WONT IT STOP???), and you find yourself getting weak, you might be making yourself anemic. if this is the case, you should certainly go see the dr.

personally, i wouldn't monkey around with skipping the period week until after the 3 months has passed.
posted by nadawi at 5:42 PM on August 31, 2009

I am not a doctor, but this does not sound normal to me. Are you bleeding while still taking the active pills? How many placebo weeks have you skipped in a row? Did this bleeding start as soon as you switched from Yasmin to Ocella? If you are not taking the active pills and still bleeding, then I would recommend starting Day 1 of a new pack right away. It may be that your very long period is ending, as you mentioned that the bleeding has been intermittent the past few days, and the active pills will help, kind put your cycle on track. But it may be something else.

I am also on Ocella. I did experience some mild spotting when I switched from Yasmin, but that lasted like half a day. If you are and have been taking your active pills, I would call your doctor or - primary care physician or gynecologist - and see if you can get some advice on the phone. Otherwise, I would make an appointment right away. Five weeks sounds like an abnormally long amount of time to bleed, even with a pill switch, even skipping periods.

(I have heard that you should never go more than 3 packs in a row, without a break to have your period. I do not know how accurate this is, but eventually the lining of your uterus is gonna to shed itself...)
posted by raztaj at 5:49 PM on August 31, 2009

that should be, * is gonna need to shed itself
posted by raztaj at 5:51 PM on August 31, 2009

Here is an awful suggestion from someone who has been on all manner of hormonal birth-control... stop taking this medicine and let your body go back to "normal."

Been there. Done it.

If I could redux, I would have chose "OTHER."

PS. I had cysts & surgery for these, and looking back, I would still decline the pills.
posted by jbenben at 5:57 PM on August 31, 2009

Yeah, I've been taking the active pills this whole time. I just started a new pack the other day, again skipping the inactive pills because I figured I would just be in for yet another 6 weeks of pain.

I would not call this mild spotting. It's like a normal period, except it doesn't stop but for a few hours.

I figured if Ocella and Yasmin were the same, I could do what I did with Yasmin which was stop for a day or two at the end of a pack, start a new pack and have a short period, then go on with my life. Oh how wrong I was.

Also, I'm trying not to have a baby right now. Which is really easy when I'm sore and crampy and bleeding all the time. So i'm not ready to give up on the pills yet..
posted by amethysts at 6:01 PM on August 31, 2009

I was on Ocella for two months (after switching from Yaz, the lighter version of Yasmin). I hated Ocella so much I switched back to Yaz, and am much happier. Basically I had heavier, painful periods on Ocella, combined with dramatic emotions (extreme sadness and anger). It was a complete nightmare. With Yaz, all of those symptoms have gone away. I've also been on ortho-tricyclin in the past, and did fine on that one, and on nuva-ring, which had similar affects to the Ocella.
posted by odayoday at 6:09 PM on August 31, 2009

I figured if Ocella and Yasmin were the same, I could do what I did with Yasmin which was stop for a day or two at the end of a pack, start a new pack and have a short period, then go on with my life.

FYI, 1-2 days is not enough. Give yourself the full week "off" the pills. If you need/want to skip the placebos and go from one active pack to another, that's usually fine for 2-3 months. But after this amount of time, definitely give yourself a full week off. Your body will need it.

I'd still calls your doc ASAP. My guess is that they might suggest stop taking the pills altogether. Give yourself a week totally off. Then start a fresh pack. But I would definitely call and see what they say...

Also, I think jbenben was suggesting you go off the pills because of its artificial regulations of your cycle, and taking the time to rid yourself of all the hormones would kind of re-set your system - In addition to some of the harmful/dangerous side effects of HBC. Though she didn't mention it, I'm guessing jbenben didn't mean you go and incubate some babies, but seek out other methods of birth control. It's worth asking your doctor about, but the pill is perfectly fine for a lot of women. Every woman's body is different.
posted by raztaj at 6:11 PM on August 31, 2009

Also, if you feel like going back to Yasmin and its worth the extra costs, talk about that when you speak with your doc. In some states, pharmacies will automatically give you the generic - I feel like if a physician and patient agree that they do not want this auto-generic prescription fill, there has to be some way to circumvent in the patient's interest. Technically generics should be identical to the "name brands," and you shouldn't experience many changes. I've known a couple of people who did not have smooth transitions from Yasmin to Ocella. I am one of the lucky ones. But I was miserable on Ortho Tri Cyclen. I know a lot of people who are perfectly happy. Your doc will be able to suggest something better for you, if you tell her/him your history/symptoms. Good luck!
posted by raztaj at 6:17 PM on August 31, 2009

Is it possible to go to urgent care, and/or does your doctor's office have a physician's assistant or nurse practitioner you could call? (Just to be clear, PAs and NPs are different from the assistants you see in the course of a regular office office who will take your vital signs, etc. before the doctor sees you. I've semi-regularly seen PAs and NPs through my medical group, and in my experience they are pretty awesome.) My main concern is that, after bleeding for five weeks, you could be anemic.
posted by scody at 6:19 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

Generics should be identical to name brands.

If you have been on active pills for more than 14 days, you should not have ovulated. Therefore this isn't a real "period", your body is responding to a dip in progesterone levels creating withdrawal bleeding". This happens in normal (non-bc) menstruation, and with both 91 and 28 day bc regimens. This could have been triggered by your pharmacy not giving you the correct generic for your name brand BC. The pills you are taking now may have lower progesterone, causing the bleeding. You will probably adapt to that, but 5 weeks of bleeding is waaaay too long. Ask your doc to check that the generic is correct, or to put you on a different brand with higher hormone levels. (There has been recent hubub about lower hormone levels being safer.)

Many docs will be willing to call in an Rx change for you.

Also, take some iron supplements or eat some red meat. Sheesh.

Also, I'm completely not a doctor. Go call yours.
posted by fontophilic at 9:28 PM on August 31, 2009

Call your doctor. She will be happy to talk to you on the phone about your problem. You will probably have to leave a message then play phone tag, but she can probably solve your problem in a 5-minute phone call.

I am on Ocella and take it for 12 weeks continually, which works very well for me. However when I was really sick I missed two pills and my body got really confused!
posted by radioamy at 9:44 PM on August 31, 2009

When I first started taking Yasmin continually I had the same problem. I bled for weeks. It was awful. My endocrinologist had me go off the yasmin completely until I stopped bleeding, which took maybe a week and a half or two weeks. She said that sometimes the uterine lining just doesn't build up and just keeps sloughing off and that I wouldn't stop bleeding without stopping the hormones for a while. After that, I went back on Yasmin continually until Ocella was released and switched to that with no problems.

This method obviously doesn't give you birth control protection, though. I ovulated when I stopped taking the pills.
posted by sugarfish at 12:38 AM on September 1, 2009

I experienced some breakthrough bleeding when starting Jolessa (generic for Seasonale) and again when my pharmacy switched to Quasense (the other generic for Seasonale). In both cases, my doctor suggested just taking a week off the pill whenever the breakthrough bleeding seemed to not be stopping. By the end of the week off it was ending the way a normal period would and starting back on the pill the next week stopped it completely. It took I think two 91 day pill packs of this for it to normalize, and I've been 2 years pretty comfortably on Quasense now.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:17 AM on September 1, 2009

I think this is serious and you should see someone. You should be able to call your pharmacist and ask questions about whether this is in the normal range or when to see a doctor. They will know more about a drug than your doctor and they are supposed to answer questions like this. If they don't want to answer questions you should get a better pharmacist. Personally, I would go to Planned Parenthood for birth control. I have always had good care from them. And think about it - that's all they do so they know more about bc than anyone else. You may even be able to talk to a nurse on the phone there even if you are not a patient yet.
posted by cda at 6:08 AM on September 1, 2009

Interesting. I'm glad I asked this, as I was starting to think I was going crazy. Thanks for your help, guys. I will give my doctor a call. I'm just glad to know this isn't normal..
posted by amethysts at 6:50 AM on September 1, 2009

I've had the five week and more bleeding after screwing up birth control pills (this was back in the dim dark days of the early 80s, though) as well as after some other hormonal issues. Yes, call your doctor, not because you are dying or anything but because she can give you a shot that will magically cause the bleeding to stop. I have no idea what's in the shot but I have gotten it myself three times in my life and it has always worked beautifully.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:06 AM on September 1, 2009

switch back to yasmin... same exact thing happened to me. called my doctor thinking i was crazy, and she tells me that some of her patients are having the same issues. i was reluctant to call too, because i assumed the two formulations would be exactly the same, but for whatever reason they are SO NOT.

You may need to have them send a new prescription indicating "brand name medically required" for insurance purposes. Or at least I did.
posted by smalls at 8:17 AM on September 1, 2009

I'm on Ocella as well, and I had a lot of bleeding when I decided to skip a placebo week. Decided it wasn't worth it, especially since my periods became 2-3 days long and very light anyway. Perhaps Seasonale might be of interest if you're looking to go for months without bleeding? (Granted, it takes your body several months to adjust, from what I've heard.)

I would agree that just one placebo day doesn't seem enough. I could definitely see it messing up your cycle in annoying ways, based on my experiences. Even if it's a generic of another pill you're already familiar with, our bodies sometimes see it as a little different. So on Ocella, my advice would be to avoid deviating from its instructions. My guess would be, your body will adjust back to normal soon.

See your doctor when you can, but I don't think this is something to fret day and night over. Remember, too, that stress can throw it all out of whack. (At some point last year I was under so much pressure, when I got my period I thought I was bleeding my entire body out. Eep.)
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 8:24 AM on September 1, 2009

In cases where I've seen this happen, the remedy has been to switch to a different pill entirely. At least, this is what the doctor recommended, and it worked.

Your mileage may vary.

Also, you have to consider that 5 straight weeks of bleeding can indicate something severe, like a perforation. It's rare, but you need to rule it out because if you do have an injury to your girl parts, you're in trouble and you're in for a hospital stay. You really do need to talk to a doctor now, unfortunately.

posted by Citrus at 10:15 AM on September 1, 2009

FYI, called the doctor and she said to keep taking the pills until it goes away, there's really nothing she can do about it, and I should come in so we can have a chat about not doing that again. LOL.
posted by amethysts at 3:19 PM on September 2, 2009

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