When you’ve stopped using birth control pills because you’ve decided to try for a baby and your period does not resume its normal cycle, it can be very frustrating. This is a common problem for couples trying to conceive. Post pill amenorrhea is the absence of a menstrual period for three months or more after stopping birth control pills.
Most women who experience this start to wonder what is wrong with their bodies. The source of this problem lies with the hormones in a woman’s body.
Birth control pills suppress the pituitary gland’s production of the hormones FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone). These hormones help stimulate the follicles in the ovaries to develop. As the follicles grow, they produce estrogen. After they release an egg, they produce progesterone.
Birth control pills contain estrogen and progesterone. If a woman is taking birth control pills, her body will believe that she is ovulating because of the estrogen and progesterone in the medication. Her pituitary gland will stop producing FSH and LH. Without these two hormones, ovulation does not occur and it is close to impossible to become pregnant (there is always a very small chance that birth control pills may not work for certain women).
After taking birth control pills for a length of time, the pituitary gland may continue to believe that there is a sufficient amount of estrogen and progesterone even after the medication is stopped. This causes her body not to ovulate and subsequently not return to a normal menstrual cycle. This absence of a normal cycle can be the complete absence of a period or irregular periods.
If you are experiencing this, you may be wondering just how long this amenorrhea will last. Most women’s cycles return to normal within three to six months. Some women may have to wait up to two years for a normal cycle to return. Although it may sound like you won’t get pregnant during the time you are waiting for your period to return, it is possible to get pregnant before the return of your period. It is impossible to predict if a woman will ovulate first or if her period will return first.
What can you do if you are tired of waiting and what to jump start things? Go see your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe clomiphene citrate to stimulate your pituitary gland to produce FSH and LH. Although clomiphene citrate is a medication often prescribed, there are other medications available that your doctor may prescribe.
Clomiphene citrate blocks the estrogen receptors in the uterus. This tells your pituitary gland that there is no estrogen and that your body is not producing a mature follicle. The pituitary then produces FSH. The FSH in your body causes the follicles to grow and produce progesterone when one ruptures. The estrogen tells the lining of your uterus to grow so that a potential embryo will have what it needs to survive. If the egg that is released is not fertilized, the lining of your uterus will shed and you will have your period.
If you have stopped birth control pills and have not had a regular cycle or if your doctor has diagnosed you with post pill amenorrhea, don’t worry. You aren’t the only one going through this. Many women experience this.