Q&A: Stopped taking the pill

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Dr Bronwyn Moore (gynaecologist) answers:

Amenorrhoea, or not having periods, can be due to many things. Most women have a cycle length of 25 to 35 days, but some do have longer cycles of up to 45 days. If a woman hasn’t had a period for
three months this should be investigated. Pregnancy is obviously a common cause in the reproductive period.

Initially blood tests should be done to exclude thyroid problems, high prolactin levels and premature ovarian failure. Another common cause of amenorrhoea is PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). This is diagnosed by a combination of clinical features, appearance of the ovaries on sonar and blood results.

Previously being on the pill was thought to be a cause of “post pill amenorrhoea” – this is not the case. The pill offers reversible contraception and when stopping the pill, cycles should return in four to six weeks. However, many women start the pill because of irregular periods and this may re-occur when the pill is stopped.

Also PCOS manifests in the mid to late 20s and early 30s. It occurs equally in women who have and have not used the pill but because the pill manages the hormonal problems, it is diagnosed later in women who have been on the pill. Many causes of amenorrhoea are treatable, and fertility can then be restored. Please see a health care professional for assistance.

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