Breakthrough Bleeding

Breakthrough bleeding is when you bleed from the uterus between periods. There are multiple causes but a major cause is the use of contraception or birth control. This is due to the hormones in the birth control that your body is not used to and it can take months for your body to regulate the hormones and for the breakthrough bleeding to stop. It is more likely to occur when you first start birth control or when you switch from one to another.
Women can also experience breakthrough bleeding if they:

  • Forget to take a pill or alter the time of day that It is taken
  • Have vomiting and diarrhea generally caused by an illness that can limit your absorption of your contraceptive
  • Take a new medication the may interfere with your birth control
  • Have an infection such as:           
    • Sexually transmitted infection
    • Pelvic Inflammatory disease
    • Vaginitis
    • Polyps
    • Fibroids
    • Pre-cancer or cancer


Ultimately, breakthrough bleeding is not a reason to stop birth control or the contraception method being used. It also doesn’t always mean the birth control isn’t working. While breakthrough bleeding is not enjoyable, try to take the time to understand why it may be occurring and schedule an appointment with your provider if you have concerns. Don’t let it deter you from protecting yourself from an unwanted pregnancy.  Be patient while your body gets used to the new hormones.
If you are not on a contraceptive and are having breakthrough bleeding its important to schedule an appointment with your provider. They can perform an exam and testing to get to the bottom of your bleeding. Take care of yourself by seeking out medical care when you have any concern or issue with breakthrough bleeding.

Ann Moore, CNM