What is withdrawal bleeding?
Before we can talk about the differences between menstrual or period bleeding and withdrawal bleeding, it is important to know what each is. Withdrawal bleeding happens when women who use hormonal contraception suddenly stop using them. Examples of hormonal contraception include pills, implants, IUDs, and injections that contain estrogen, progesterone, or similar hormones.
Withdrawal bleeds also occur after using the morning after pill or the Yuzpe method, as these contain the same hormones as normal contraceptive pills.
What’s the difference between period vs withdrawal bleeding?
While they look similar, a natural period and a withdrawal bleed are different. There are several key differences between the blood or menstruum of periods and withdrawal bleeds. Differences include the timing, amount, and composition.
Timing of bleeds
Firstly, there is a difference between the timing and frequency of each type of bleed. A typical menstrual cycle lasts 21 to 35 days, with 2 to 7 days of bleeding. Because hormones in contraceptives are usually synthetic and in higher amounts than what is naturally made in the body, it no longer follows your natural pattern. Women who experience irregular periods can experience regular withdrawal bleeds after starting hormonal contraception.