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What Does a Missed Period While on the Pill Mean?

written by: Suzanne Florin • edited by: lrohner • updated: 11/28/2010

A missed period is caused by several factors such as nutrition, stress, medication, and pregnancy. But what does it mean when a period is missed while on the pill? This article surfaces on the different kinds of birth control pills, as well as the reasons for a missed period while on the pill.

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    About Oral Contraceptives

    764px-Plaquettes de pilule Taking birth control pills is one way of preventing pregnancy. These medications are hormonal preparations that contain either a combination of estrogen and progestin (combined oral contraceptives) or progestin alone. The release of the luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) from the pituitary gland are prevented when estrogen and progestin are combined. These hormones prevent the development as well as the release of the egg, thus preventing pregnancy. Progestin makes fertilization impossible, as it thickens the uterine mucus and prevents the sperm from penetrating the egg.

    Oral contraceptives are also prescribed to women who experience difficulty during ovulation and menstrual period. Birth control pills lessen cramps and heavy flow during menstruation. Because of a reduction in the amount of bleeding, anemia is also prevented. However, the changes in the hormone levels caused by oral contraceptives can sometimes develop certain effects such as changes in mood, nausea, tenderness of the breasts, and headaches. These side effects gradually disappear as the body adjusts to the alteration in the hormone levels.

    Missing a period is a common experience while on the pill; others even stop having a period. These are all normal effects of taking birth control pills, and there is no need to be alarmed. However, if two consecutive periods are missed, it is best to consult your physician.

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    Causes of a Missed Period while on the Pill

    The hormones found in oral contraceptives control the natural flow during menstrual period. This phenomenon produces lighter bleeding and a shorter period. However, some experience missing a period which can cause alarm to sexually active women. Here are the following reasons for a missed period while on the pill:

    Missing a Pill

    It is important to take the pill regularly to ensure its effectiveness. That is why many of the birth control pill dispensers have labels or numbers to indicate the corresponding day when each should be taken. Missing a pill increases the chance of getting pregnant. If one tablet is missed, it is important to take it as soon as one realizes that it was skipped. However, if more than one pill was missed, it is best to consult your physician for advice.

    Effect of the Pill

    New medications taken can cause some disturbance in the menstrual cycle. The synthetic hormones found in birth control pills alter the menstrual cycle, thus producing change in the blood flow as well as the duration of the period. Certain types of oral contraceptives such as Depo-Provera and Norplant can cause a missed period. This effect disappears in time, once the body has adjusted to the changes in the hormone levels.


    As mentioned previously, it is important to take the pill regularly to achieve its optimum effect. It is recommended that those who have just started taking a pill should use other contraceptives during the first seven days of use, particularly for sexually-active women. Pregnancy is likely to occur during this period, that is why it is best to have additional means of contraception. In case pregnancy is suspected, it is best to take a pregnancy test as soon as the first day of a missed period to alleviate any anxieties.