A lot of women have been prescribed the oral contraceptive pill (OCP) for various complications associated with their period. It’s used to address things ranging from acne to painful periods to heavy bleeding. But what does it do once you take it?

The OCP, aka the pill, seems to work well – if you are on it your symptoms look like they completely resolve. While you take it, they seemingly disappear. This is because the pill hits pause on your hormones and prevents ovulation. 

This means that while you are on it you don’t have a real period.

Some women do bleed when they are on the pill, but this is not a true period. A true period is part of a hormonal cycle that includes ovulation, progesterone production and results in the shedding of the uterine lining.

While you are on the pill you may experience a bleed. This bleed is different to a normal period – because it isn’t one. Ovulation cannot occur when you are on the pill as the entire menstrual cycle is effectively on pause. 

What triggers the bleed then? 

Withdrawal. Typically, the pill is taken for 21 days, followed by 7 days off. This is the cycle that most forms follow, and it is during that pause in the pill cycle that the bleed occurs. The withdrawal from the hormones the pill normally provides stimulates the uterine lining to bleed.

It is different to a period because ovulation has not occurred. There has been no true menstrual cycle.

Knowing the difference can help put your menstrual health into perspective: Is the pill solving your problem or putting it on hold until later? 

Natural period repair focuses on supporting your ovaries and helping them function normally. Not suppressing them as the pill does.

Taking the time to do manage your periods naturally means that when you do it right it’s done for good. From that point, if you are healthy, your periods will be healthy.

Katherine Knott

Katherine is a certified naturopath and the founding director of Acorn and Oak.   She began studying Naturopathy when she was 18 years old and has practiced in both Melbourne and rural Victoria.  She has also studied 2 1/2 years of nursing and midwifery, but decided that she was happier to work with women as […]

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Nicki Stewart

Nicki has always been drawn to Holistic Health and she follows in her mother’s footsteps who is a Reflexologist and Natural Therapist. Nicki was inspired to study Herbal Medicine after attending one of Dr. Sandi Rogers’ (Naturopath, Director of National College of Traditional Medicine and former President of Australian Traditional Medicine Society) seminars on ‘Fruits […]

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Alyce Beaton

Alyce is qualified naturopath in Ballarat who loves supporting people on their health journey. Alyce believes optimising and restoring health first and foremost begins with food as medicine and creating healthy lifestyle habits. She is passionate about providing a safe, non judgement environment and endeavours to support her clients with strategies they can implement into […]

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