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Is Heavy Vaginal Discharge on Birth Control Pills Normal?

A woman taking birth control pills is concerned about the abnormal discharge she sees while scaling back the dosage.

Case #: 808

Concern:

I took loads of birth control in college. Part of it was by choice, but it was also because of my boyfriend. See, my then-boyfriend could not maintain an erection with a condom, so I had to take birth control. After years of taking birth control, I started to slowly wean off the pills. After each time, I saw intense levels of discharge. Is this normal?

Discussion:

Designed to mimic the pituitary system's influences during pregnancy, birth control pills and other forms of hormonal birth control contain large doses of synthetic estrogen and progesterone. In large enough quantities, these chemicals force the ovaries to stop producing eggs and testosterone, which does more than just prevent pregnancy in some users.

Women who take birth control are much more likely to develop sexual side effects, including problems with libido, vaginal lubrication, and achieving orgasm. Taking the pill also raises your risk of vaginal infection and UTI. Another relatively common side effect is abnormal vaginal discharge.

Many people's bodies can adjust to these extreme hormonal changes enough that they either don't notice any problematic side effects, or stop seeing them after a few months. Some women only begin to experience problems after prolonged birth control use. While the ovarian suppression caused by pregnancy only lasts nine months, many birth control users take the pills consistently for a number of years. Some experts fear that these women run the risk of permanently damaging their reproductive systems.

Birth Control Pills and Vaginal Discharge

Under normal circumstances, the vagina contains several populations of symbiotic micro-flora, including candidia (vaginal yeast) and various types of bacteria. Along with the body's immune suppression, these populations keep each other in check through competition. Sudden changes in the vagina's natural environment can cause harmful proliferations of micro-flora, which is the mechanism behind many vaginal infections.

Progesterone, which plays a central role in stimulating uterine contractions, initiates the cell shedding that occurs during menstruation. Too much progesterone can also cause the cervix to contract and cause an abnormal amount of discharge. In more extreme cases, this process also causes spotting of the uterine lining between periods.

When unusual discharge appears, it generally upsets the vagina's internal balance enough to cause an infection. That is why a sudden change in vaginal discharge usually indicates an infection.

How to Stop the Flow

If the heavy discharge appears after you start or stop your birth control doses, then the best way to regain control of the symptom is to stop taking hormonal birth control. There are a number of other contraceptive methods that are also effective, but do not suppress important ovarian functions.

Additionally, there are plenty of boyfriends who won't ask you to do something if you don't like its affect on your body! If you want to discontinue the pills and are worried about stopping them suddenly, you can talk to your doctor about the best way to taper the dosage off.

In addition to (or instead of) discontinuing the birth control, there are a number of herbal remedies designed to balance the environment in the vagina (SEE: Vaginal Infection Relief) to control or prevent infection.

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Views: 92

Ideas: Women's, Vaginal Discharge

Blog ID: 60114

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