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Is There a Birth Control Pill to Stop Breakthrough Bleeding?

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Updated June 14, 2014

Is There a Birth Control Pill to Stop Breakthrough Bleeding?

I love to receive emails from my readers, so I thank all of you for your support. I am commonly asked to suggest which pill brand would be the best choice given somebody’s particular situation. Just to clarify, I am not a medical doctor, so although I can provide you with information about a given brand of birth control pills, this information should not be taken as medical advice. It is always best to discuss pill brand concerns and side effects with your health-care provider.

That being said, Angel asks, “I am 22 years old. I take oral contraceptives to reduce acne and regulate my period. I have tried 4 different OCs in the past 2 years, but I have spotting days 10 through to menstruation. Could you suggest some brands that could cure my acne and spotting? … Oh and I'm a bit confused about ethynodiol diacetate. Does it actually CAUSE spotting?”

One of the benefits of using the pill is that it can offer several non-contraceptive advantages. As far as breakthrough bleeding goes, women respond so differently to the combination effects of various pills that it is sometime hard to figure out what pill to use. Because breakthrough bleeding is common during the first three months as your body adjusts to the new hormone levels, you should do your best to try to stay on your current pill brand during this time to determine if the breakthrough bleeding is due to this adjustment period. If you are still experiencing breakthrough bleeding after three months are up, it may be time to talk to your doctor about this side effect.

Different pill brands may be better able to help with acne. Though not specifically FDA-approved to treat acne, research has suggested that the lower estrogen found in Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo may be helpful in the treatment of acne. If you have chosen the pill for your birth control method, the pill brand Yaz has actually been FDA-approved to help treat moderate acne. These pill brands, however, may or may not assist with ending your breakthrough bleeding.

Just to quickly address Angel’s confusion about the progestin, ethynodiol diacetate. This progestin is typically associated with increased early or mid-cycle breakthrough bleeding. It is actually the estrogen dose (rather than the specific progestin) that is most associated with breakthrough bleeding. This means that higher estrogen dosages can counteract the likelihood of breakthrough bleeding. So in pills containing ethynodiol diacetate, the brands that also include higher levels of estrogen can alleviate this side effect. Understanding progestin effects as well as pill classification can also help you to determine the relationship between certain pill brands and potential side effects.

Do you have a question about birth control? Please visit my interactive page where you can email me your contraceptive question as well as see some of the questions that others have asked -– all in one easy-to-locate place!

Photo © 2009 Dawn Stacey

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