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Womens Health

Birth Control for a 12-Year-Old? Yes, if She Has Heavy Periods

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A listener wrote (paraphrasing) that her 12-year-old daughter started her period, with a very heavy first one. Eventually, the heavy periods led her family doctor to decide to put her on the birth control pill to control them.

She has been bleeding while on the pill, and requires extra treatments with pills to make it stop. Her physician wants her to take the active pills nonstop so she will not have to deal with the bleeding. Her question is regarding the safety of continuous birth control use for someone that young.

Continuous contraception is likely safe for all adolescents, although it has not been studied in them as much. A personal consultation would determine if the breakthrough bleeding is from just the pill or another gynecologic cause before making a decision on the treatment.

For instance, some people have irregular menses due to bleeding disorders (that would be rare!), others have ovarian cysts, and yet others are taking medicines or foods which interfere with their pills.

We worry that continuous pill use may lower estrogen levels rather than raise them, so it is always important for young girls on birth control to get plenty of calcium in their diet. And above all, get them to meet a gyno and establish communication, so that when your teen has a question, they have a medical person they could ask, as well as mom!

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