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Withdrawal Bleeding

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Updated July 28, 2008

Definition: Uterine bleeding that occurs in response to the withdrawal of oral contraceptives, or other hormone treatments. Traditional oral contraceptives contain 21 active hormone pills, followed by 7 days of inactive placebos during which time women experience withdrawal bleeding. This is true, as well, for continuous oral contraceptives which offer women the option for longer amounts of time without withdrawal bleeding.

True menstruation takes place only after ovulation takes place without the occurrence of fertilization. Because oral contraceptives eliminate ovulation, the withdrawal bleeding that happens during the 7 days off active pills is not menstruation.

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