Make my period stop. Please.
August 13, 2008 6:06 PM   Subscribe

My doctor put me on a new brand of birth control (Lybrel, which claims to "remove your period"). After one month, my period started and has not stopped--and I am almost completely done with month two. It is aggravating. How can I stop my period?

For more explanation, I am 19 years old, can't put birth control on my insurance (my parents would not be happy people), so my doctor gives me sample packs. It's really up to what's in the office on the day I come in which determines what brand I'm on for the next three months. I am sexually active, but not over the summer.

This happened last time I tried to skip my period with the pill, but I was switched to Loestrin 24 Fe shortly after, which I loved, and that stopped it immediately.

Basically, um, why is my menstrual cycle refusing to allow me to not have a period? This isn't just "light spotting" but light to heavy legitimate bleeding, for over three weeks.

How can I stop it? I have a Pap smear scheduled for later in the month (which I've already had to reschedule twice due to this stupid period) -- should I just go off the pill until then and then ask for either a prescription for Loestrin or a different sample pack with placebos? Or should I ride this pack out and see what happens?

If I just stop taking the pills, will my period fizzle out? Is there ANYTHING I can do to make my period stop? It is seriously getting annoying. Would switching IMMEDIATELY to another brand stop it? If so, I can call my doctor and have her write me the prescription.

Any help is appreciated. If you need further info, email ihateyoulybrel [at] gmail.com.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
These are definitely questions to ask your doctor, so first and foremost call your provider tomorrow and ask to speak to a nurse practitioner or the doctor who sees you regularly. Say who you are, and if they can't talk right then, ask them to call you back/keep calling. Get some info as soon as you can; excessive bleeding can be a sign of all sorts of bad things, not just hormonal imbalance.

That being said, and considering your previous issues, it does sound like the pill itself is making this happen. If you are not currently having sex and not therefore at risk of pregnancy, I would say go ahead and stop taking it, and see if it gets better (but still talk to your doctor, and maybe schedule an appointment.) Your hormones should right themselves fairly quickly, and if they do not, you will know that's not your problem. The worst that could happen is that you might have to use a back-up form of contraception, like condoms, until you can get a different kind.

I suppose it is theoretically possible that the hormones from the pill are not causing you to bleed, but rather something else is and the hormones are actually helping, but that seems remote. Nevertheless, if it stops and the bleeding gets excessive or much worse, get a trusted friend to take you to an immediate care clinic (or the ER, if that seems necessary). Better that it be a false alarm than you pass out somewhere from loss of blood and hit your head and have mild concussion or worse on top of it (trust me, this nearly happened to me.)
posted by WidgetAlley at 6:18 PM on August 13, 2008


You should probably call your doctor and ask her what to do.

Did you by any chance miss a pill, or take one a little too early or too late by accident? Last time I did that, I got a light period (but still a period) for 2 weeks, followed by my regular period while I was taking the placebo pills. After that, everything went back to normal.

So, if I were you, I would stop taking the pill for a week and kinda let your body reboot, then start taking it again and see what happens.
posted by snoogles at 6:20 PM on August 13, 2008


If you're still consisently bleeding, I would stop taking the type of oral contraceptive you are currently "sampling". Rather than using whatever samples are on hand, visit a walk-in Planned Parenthood and get a brand of OC that works for your body and stay consistent. They will work with you regarding the cost (if any).
posted by Asherah at 6:22 PM on August 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Asherah covered what I forgot. I get name-brand birth control from Planned Parenthood for $12 a pack, very very reasonable. Be sure to call them and schedule an appointment-- they are a wonderful organization and would be more than happy to help you out. If there is not one near you, try a county health clinic-- they also tend to be very reasonably priced.
posted by WidgetAlley at 6:23 PM on August 13, 2008


Several observations:

-If you are switching formulation as well as brand, that's a recipe for screwing things up. Different hormone formulations work different ways - Ortho TriCyclen, for example, has different levels of hormones every week, while some pills don't vary at all. Furthermore, some pills have higher or lower levels of hormones. If you've been switching pill formulations, weird symptoms like extended periods aren't entirely unexpected. Which is to say: you need to take one pill formulation consistantly.

-To this end: You say you're not sexually active over the summer. If you're in college, do you have health insurance through the college? If that's the case, your parents almost certainly aren't getting a detailed list of what you've been prescribed, etc. You should be able to pick up prescriptions without your parents knowing that the prescriptions are for birth control. Talk to your medical provider about this! Privacy regulations are generally pretty stringent.

-Along the same lines: Have you considered going to, say, Planned Parenthood or your campus medical provider and getting the Pill through them? They can often provide the Pill cheaper, and you won't be dependent on whatever pills your doctor happens to have.

-If this hasn't stopped in weeks, you may be at some risk for anemia. Definitely head for a doctor, whether or not you get a Pap spear done. Worst case, they can run other tests - ultrasounds or even MRIs - to rule out any physical problems. Best case, they can get you back on a birth control formulation that works for you.

-As to whether stopping immediately or switching immediately to a new form of birth control would help: probably, yes, but you should really do it with the help of your doctor. It's a pretty safe medication, but why risk prolonging your problems by trying to handle it alone?
posted by ubersturm at 6:24 PM on August 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you are not sexually active right now, I would suggest getting off the pill and letting your body recover from hormonal wackiness associated with it and then never take that brand again. (Also, of course, call your doctor and tell her you are doing this)

On a different note, if you are having a constant period, you should make sure that you are getting enough iron in your diet because women's bodies have a higher iron need during that time. That'll at least make sure you feel sort of better.

And, I know that this wasn't part of the question but since you said that any help is appreciated...have you considered getting your birth control at Planned Parenthood? Some have a sliding scale for what you pay and you don't have to necessarily give them your insurance info. I don't know if your situation allows for that but it would certainly be nicer for your body to stick to a birth control that works for you rather than switching around.
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 6:27 PM on August 13, 2008


There are some things that you should ask your Gyn about. Bleeding for one or two months is one of those. As you've noticed, switching up hormonal meds every few months is very suboptimal, and if you're in the US there are plenty of options, which your gyn should be able to go through. If your doc isn't being through with you, or you don't feel that you can be open in your relationship with her, affordable providing birth control is one of the core missions of Planned Parenthood. If you don't want to go to PP, or there's not one conveinent to you, just call them and ask for more information. If you don't want parents seeing the expense, use one of the now available generic formulations, which are cheap, about $25 for 90 days supply.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:28 PM on August 13, 2008


Please, please, please PLEASE.

Just go see a doctor.

Don't listen to anyone else here -- if you've been bleeding for 3 weeks -- please go to a Doctor.

I'm a guy, and have no experience with periods beyond the fact that my girlfriend has them. But if she told me what you said, I would be taking her to the doctor before her sentence describing her symptoms to me ended in its own period (ok, really bad joke). But as a guy, I'm freaking out now, and want to pick you up and drive you to a doctor so you can STOP BLEEDING. Oh my god, just go.
posted by BobbyVan at 6:29 PM on August 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


When you're on oral contraceptives where you don't have a placebo week at the end of the month, like Seasonale, Seasonique, and Lybrel, this kind of bleeding is a pretty common side effect. In fact, it's the first one mentioned on the "side effects" section of the Lybrel website. It usually goes away after the first 6 months or so of use. Stopping the pill will probably make the bleeding go away, but you might have to deal with more bleeding if you go back on because you'll be starting over.
posted by phoenixy at 6:30 PM on August 13, 2008


When you get back to school, you should definitely head over to the campus health center and explain your dilemma to a doctor there. They hear this sort of thing all the time, so they should be non-judgemental, and helpful in figuring out a way to get you a "real" prescription. On-campus pharmacies usually sell BC much cheaper than your typical drugstore, too.

Since it sounds like you don't need the protection for a couple more weeks at least, I'd stop taking the Lybrel. I got a never-ending period and several other nasty side-effects on Ortho TriCyclen Lo, and they went away immediately after I stopped taking it.
posted by arianell at 6:34 PM on August 13, 2008


Loestrin 24 Fe is awesome for me too but it's super expensive, like close to $70/month where I live. PP in my area doesn't offer it.
posted by Bunglegirl at 6:36 PM on August 13, 2008


definitely talk to a doctor, but just keep in mind that each brand has a slightly (or very) different mix of hormones. the estrogen is always the same; what varies is the concentration of the estrogen, and the type and concentration of the progestin. it's not dangerous to mix these up, but it can cause all sorts of hormonal weirdness. often, women will find they do best on one type of progestin versus another. the others may actually make you feel worse than you would off the pill, and certainly can affect your period.

if you're going to take the pill, the best thing you can do is find a pill that you like and stick with it. many have generics, so just take the rx to the pharmacy and tell them you aren't using insurance for it--you'll pay more, but if you get a generic, it may still be manageable. (i use a generic and it's fine.)
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:37 PM on August 13, 2008


If you can trust that your information is private to your parents, can't you tell them that your doctor prescribed the pill for your irregular and Oh My God Are They Insanely Severe!!! menstrual cycles?
posted by Jazz Hands at 6:38 PM on August 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh, I should add, that in case you're planning on stopping the pill so you can have the pap smear, you should stop at least a week before the appointment. During that week you'll have your "real" period and THEN the bleeding will stop (that was my experience, anyway).
posted by phoenixy at 6:55 PM on August 13, 2008


I want to add, on a somewhat unrelated note, that I've read that birth control pills are not considered as effective in the first month on a new type. If you're switching BC methods every three months, that means 1/3 of the year, you're seriously running the risk that your birth control isn't actually offering much control. That's another reason to find a low-cost solution for getting a brand of pill that works for you and stick with it.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:38 PM on August 13, 2008


Since you're 19 years old, your health information is private. Since you're on your parents' insurance, they will get a bill of course (for whatever their copay is for your doctor visit and/or any prescriptions) but they should not be able to find out what you were prescribed. You should be able to verify this with your doctor.

If your doctor does end up violating the law and telling them what you're taking, you can always take Jazz Hands' suggestion and tell them that the pills are to regulate your menstrual cycle. Absolute nothing about "our daughter is having sex" should need to come into play.
posted by amyms at 7:55 PM on August 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


This happened to me when I started on birth control- I bled for almost a month. It did finally stop. Wait it out.
posted by mylittlehipster at 7:58 PM on August 13, 2008


Hormones need stability in order to work properly, so the fact that you're changing your Rx every few months or so isn't going to help with consistency, since most pills have variations in hormone level.

Go back to the doc, explain what's going on. You probably just need to wait a while. I've had this happen to me before; I was on Ortho Tricyclin, and they told me if I just skipped the placebo week I wouldn't have my period, and I bled for the whole month anyway.

If you can't have your BC show up on your insurance, consider going to Planned Parenthood, you can always get BC there. I don't know where you live but some states have health programs that will pay for BC if you don't have insurance or you want confidentiality (that's how it is here in California). It's worth checking out, and at least you can get the same kind of pill which will help you be consistent.

Good luck!
posted by starfyr at 8:56 PM on August 13, 2008


As a "grown up" with my own insurance and all that, the only time I ever see squat in the mail is when I get my card annually.
No detailed lists of my annual activity, no mailed bills from the doc, no record of items prescribed (unless they were refused and I contested), nothing. When I was married and had my husband on my insurance I didn't get records of anything he had done, either. I don't even get bills in the mail, and don't know anyone who does. Most docs in my area require a copay when you go in, not later on, and it's the same when you pick up a script.

The only thing I would say, if you decide not to go to Planned Parenthood (which, if you're in school, you so should. They charge less than my copay for pills), is to go to a different pharmacy than your family normally uses. You don't want to get sick in six months and have mom grab your antibiotics from the same place you get your BC, since they may mention the drug interactions. (antibiotics make birth control not so controlling) And planned parenthood? They're awesome. I went to them for eight years, all through high school and college and beyond. They'll even offer to use a predetermined fake name if they ever have to call you. Like "ok, your appt is the fifteenth. if anything changes and we have to call, should we say we're planned parenthood, or "mary (or whatever)"?

Seriously, see a doc. I can't even fathom what your iron levels alone are like now.
And hey, mom gives you shit? And this point you can say it was to stop your THREE WEEK LONG period.

Oh, and your BC effectiveness can be reduced by going from brand to brand to brand. Moreso if you're going from triphasic to monophasic and back again over and over.

And honestly? Unless your parents are hardcore fundamentalists/Catholics/Mormons/etc I suspect they will be more understanding than you'd imagine. People have sex, I bet they assume or suspect you are, and knowing you're being responsible could be a load off their minds. They might not be thrilled, but it could lead to a more mature stage in your relationship with them. And not thrilled because you're on the pill is nowhere near the level of not thrilled you'll see if this birth control roulette causes you to get pregnant. (or, at this point, pass out from blood loss)
posted by Kellydamnit at 9:36 PM on August 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


I want to add, on a somewhat unrelated note, that I've read that birth control pills are not considered as effective in the first month on a new type. If you're switching BC methods every three months, that means 1/3 of the year, you're seriously running the risk that your birth control isn't actually offering much control.

This is false. Changing formulations constantly is frustrating due to side-effects, but it's not compromising protection.
posted by Violet Hour at 9:55 PM on August 13, 2008


starfyr said "I was on Ortho Tricyclin, and they told me if I just skipped the placebo week I wouldn't have my period." Note that this is one of those examples of multiphasic birth control where you cannot simply skip the placebo week: the hormone levels change throughout the month, and they're designed with the placebo week in mind. If you try to take multiphasic pills continuously, you're going to get a lot of weird breakthrough bleeding, etc. If you plan to skip the placebo week, you need to use monophasic birth control, where the hormones remain constant throughout the month.
posted by ubersturm at 10:07 PM on August 13, 2008


Please, please, please PLEASE.

Just go see a doctor.

Don't listen to anyone else here -- if you've been bleeding for 3 weeks -- please go to a Doctor.

I'm a guy, and have no experience with periods beyond the fact that my girlfriend has them. But if she told me what you said, I would be taking her to the doctor before her sentence describing her symptoms to me ended in its own period (ok, really bad joke). But as a guy, I'm freaking out now, and want to pick you up and drive you to a doctor so you can STOP BLEEDING. Oh my god, just go.


Your heart's in the right place, dude, but as many women who have had experience with multiple types of hormonal birth control can tell you, extended breakthrough bleeding is a common and generally harmless side effect, however annoying and messy it can be.

OP: Three cycles is about what it takes to get your body used to HBC. If you're switching it up every three months, you're going to have side effects up the yin-yang and you're never going to enjoy whatever benefits a particular type of pill offers.

I'm a full-fledged adult and there is no notice that comes in the mail to notify me of whatever prescriptions I've filled. I get a slip, I take it to the pharmacy, I pay the co-pay, that's the end of it. I take my prescription and I go home. My husband would have no idea whatsoever what medication I was taking if we didn't share a medicine cabinet.

For heaven's sake, find a birth control method that works for you and use it in good health.
posted by padraigin at 10:08 PM on August 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm sure someone else wrote this above, but it is late and I am tired and if it's up there it bears repeating...

There are perfectly valid, health-related, not-having-the-sex reasons to go on birth control. For instance, that your period has lasted a month. I went on birth control to stop my periods from controlling my life. It had nothing to do with baby prevention. Surely your parents won't freak out about a health issue. If (and this is a big if, since it's likely they have no idea about any particular things that are prescribed to you) they do bring it up, or you feel like you must for whatever reason, you can say "so, I went in [for my annual exam]/[because I've been having really heavy periods and bad cramps] and the doctor decided I should try a low-dose hormone for awhile to see if that gets things right again." Easy peasy. Not a thing to freak out about at all.

And, if your parents freak out about you investigating your own health and personal welfare, then they are crazy people and you should just go ahead and let them freak out and not let it bother you.
posted by phunniemee at 10:48 PM on August 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm really surprised that no one has mentioned any other BC possibilities. Your gyno sounds really accommodating--with your doctor's help, you could try some physical barrier methods that don't mess with your hormones AT ALL and are more affordable. See if you can get fitted for a diaphragm, or try spermicide films, or the female condom...the possibilities are far from endless, but there are at least more options out there than a pill that makes you bleed forever. Good luck.
posted by laconic titan at 2:12 AM on August 14, 2008


Every time I have gone on a pill break, then restarted it, regardless of the brand or type, I had a month-long period. Looks like mylittlehipster experienced some of this too. Maybe it's the way the body is reacting to it, getting used to the way the hormones are affecting your body. Changing types of pills might have done that for you. I have never really found out why this happens; but I know from regular check-up I do not have a problem. I think you could wait it out until the end of your cycle, but definitely go see your doctor if it carries on further than that.
posted by tweemy at 2:50 AM on August 14, 2008


Just last month I started Yasmin and bled the whole month. Second month is fine.

Don't worry about it.
posted by Nattie at 7:19 AM on August 14, 2008


I have to dispute what Kellydamnit said above. I know she meant well but it was not the same as my experience:

the only time I ever see squat in the mail is when I get my card annually.
No detailed lists of my annual activity, no mailed bills from the doc, no record of items prescribed


I get so many things in the mail it's not funny. There's multiple bills from doctors, bills from insurance, receipts of payment of the bills... even when I paid in cash a a doc's office without insurance I got a bill from the hospital as a facility fee! Nothing from a pharmacy, though, although they do call and nothing from Planned Parenthood ever. I find that things are set in their ways and paperwork is automatically generated even if you ask for it not to be.


They'll even offer to use a predetermined fake name if they ever have to call you. Like "ok, your appt is the fifteenth. if anything changes and we have to call, should we say we're planned parenthood, or "mary (or whatever)"?


Yes, in theory. The office told me that too, but when they called their name showed up on the caller ID as Planned Parenthood and they just said they were calling to confirm a doctor's appointment without even asking for me. I was not pleased mainly because there are people for whom this could cause major problems.


Unless your parents are hardcore fundamentalists/Catholics/Mormons/etc I suspect they will be more understanding than you'd imagine.

They probably will be, but it's still embarrassing for some people to talk to their parents about that stuff. I think a lot of families have a "don't ask don't tell" unspoken policy. I'm not saying that's great, but it's there.


go to a different pharmacy than your family normally uses

This is very important though and a great suggestion, I have done this since college for the same reasons. Also, if you don't get pills from PP shop around for the best price. I find Sam's Club and Costco to have the best prices and you don't have to be a member to use the pharmacy.
posted by Bunglegirl at 9:21 AM on August 14, 2008


I had that happen when I wa on Alesse. I was on it for about six months, and still bleeding most o the month. My doctor gave me a month's worth of low-dose estrogen; it made me nauseous, so I only took it for about a week and a half, but it was enough to kick my system back into place.

I'm going to echo what everyone else said, and suggest that you find a better way to cover your hormonal birth control needs. Switching every three months isn't only bad for you because of the hormone switch: I'm sure it also raises the likelihood of birth control failure.

(On the bright side, since you've tried a whole bunch, you probably already know what works well for you!)
posted by OLechat at 10:12 AM on August 14, 2008


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