Which Birth Control Pills Are Best To Use For Skipping Periods
Medically reviewed by Jenny Ingle Pappas, MSN, APRN, FNP-C on December 21, 2020
Women who want to adjust the way they have their periods on birth control have a number of options. Women can decrease the frequency of their periods, reduce the length of their periods, or occasionally avoid their periods entirely by taking certain kinds of birth control pills or taking them in a certain way.
That said, not every birth control pill is designed to be used to skip periods. The formulas to use for this are monophasic combination pills, meaning those that contain both estrogen and progestin in the same amounts in every pill. Most packs of combination birth control pills contain 21 days of hormone-containing pills followed by 7 days worth of placebo pills its while taking the placebo pills that people have their periods.
What Are The Benefits Of Skipping Your Period
Skipping your period not only helps improve general well-being, but also long-term reproductive health. Not to mention the fact that period products are costly and often harmful to the environment!
In terms of well-being, skipping your period decreases symptoms associated with bleeding cramps, bloating, headaches, anemia, acne, embarrassment and that is just to name a few. Additionally, choosing not to bleed every month could lead to a lower risk of developing endometrial and ovarian cancers by changing the susceptibility of cells to infection. Lastly, by not having to purchase period products as often, you save money and contribute less to pollution .
While skipping your period is safe, you should talk to a doctor before starting the process to ensure that its the right decision for you. For instance, it is recommended that individuals who have been menstruating for less than two years keep getting a period, as they are likely still growing and estrogen could impact their height.
How Does Birth Control Work And Which Ones Can Stop Your Period
There are tons of options for preventing pregnancy, but not all types of birth control can reduce or delay a period. For the highest likelihood of sending your monthly visitor packing, youll need to use a hormonal birth control method. Some birth control types are progestin-only, while others contain both progestin and estrogen.
So, which types of birth control will definitely stop your period? Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Some people will continue to get a regular period, while others will experience a decrease in flow and duration or see it disappear entirelyas long as they are on birth control. That said, James Gohar, MD, an ob-gyn at Mount Sinai West and New York-Presbyterian Hospital and clinical instructor at Weill Cornell School of Medicine, tells SELF that combination birth control , hormonal IUDs, and injections have the highest potential to stop your period altogether, but this is not a guarantee. The majority of people will still get a period, but significantly shorter and lighter, he explains.
Lets walk through how each type of hormonal birth control works, and talk about their period-poofing potential:
Combination hormonal birth control pills use estrogen and progestin to prevent pregnancy. The progestin thickens your cervical mucus , thins out your uterine lining, and suppresses ovulation. Estrogen helps to control breakthrough bleeding while also working to suppress ovulation.
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How Did Menstrual Suppression Come About
In 1977, the first study was published on an extended oral contraceptive regimen of 84/7 . This showed reducing the frequency of menstruation to every three months was safe.
Since then, researchers have studied the various ways the pill can be used to suppress menstruation.
Most studies show the practice is well-accepted by patients. An 84-day cycle is usually recommended, allowing four withdrawal bleeds per year. This schedule minimises the risk of endometrial hyperplasia, an abnormal thickening of the lining of the uterus, which is also a risk factor for endometrial cancers.
While the most common way to manipulate the menstrual cycle is through extending the days of oral contraceptive use, there are several other long-acting reversible hormone contraceptive methods that can be used to suppression menstruation for months or years. These include Implanon® , Mirena® , or Depo-provera® .
How To Keep Track Of Your Menstrual Cycle
You can use a menstrual tracker like Flo to keep track of your cycle. Period tracking apps let you log your symptoms and determine when you should expect your period. This can also take some weight off your mind, since you wont have to remember when your period is due to arrive. The app will do it for you!
Overall, as long as youre taking it correctly, birth control is highly effective at preventing pregnancy and those missed periods can happen now and again.
If youre not sure, take a pregnancy test to ease your mind. Adding some relaxing activities to your life and staying healthy can help get your cycle back to normal.
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Delaying Your Period With Birth Control Pills
Are you interested in having fewer periods? Its possible with birth control pills. Find out how and get answers to common questions about using birth control pills to delay or prevent periods.
Traditional birth control pills are designed to mimic a natural menstrual cycle. A traditional pill pack contains 28 pills, but only 21 are activecontaining hormones to suppress your fertility. The other seven pills are inactive. The bleeding that occurs during the week you take the inactive pills is withdrawal bleeding, which looks like a period. This is your bodys response to stopping the hormones. If you skip the inactive pills and start a new pack of active pills right away, you wont have this withdrawal bleeding.
The bleeding that occurs while you take the inactive pills isnt the same as a regular period. Nor is the bleeding necessary for health. This is good news if you take birth control pills and want more control over your menstrual cycle, either for personal or medical reasons.
Delaying your period can treat or prevent various menstrual symptoms. It might be worth considering if you have:
In addition, menstrual bleeding is sometimes simply inconvenient. You may want to postpone your period until after an important exam, athletic event, vacation, or special occasion, such as your wedding or honeymoon.
Breakthrough bleeding usually decreases with time, but there are some things you can do in the meantime:
Your doctor might recommend a schedule such as the following:
How To Skip Your Period Using The Pill
Having the power to choose when to skip your period can bring a lot of relief mentally and physically. Make sure that you have enough packs of birth control pills so that you can continue taking the pill every day and successfully skip your period.
Heres how to skip your period on the pill:
A few notes:
- You may experience some breakthrough bleeding as your body adjusts to the new schedule. If you regularly take 2-3 packs back-to-back, this should sort itself out after a few cycles.
- Your doctor may recommend taking up to three packs of hormonal birth control pills back-to-back, and will probably advise you to take the placebos after those three rounds.
- Make sure that your doctor prescribes enough packs for you to continue with next months pack a week early.
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Is It Safe To Try And Stop Your Period
Whether its for a week, a month or even long-term, its possible to stop your period.
Some people want to stop or delay their period because of special events like a wedding or honeymoon. For others, the desire to stop their period stems from a medical reason like:
- Heavy bleeding.
- Uterine fibroids.
While its safe to stop your period, remember that your body is normally on a cycle, which ranges from 21 to 35 days. And it all has to do with hormones.
Estrogen is the hormone that makes tissue build up in your uterus, which provides a nice cushiony lining for a pregnancy to implant, says Dr. Jhaveri. If you dont get pregnant, that tissue needs to shed, and thats your period. After you ovulate, another hormone, progesterone, is released and helps to keep you pregnant. But if you dont get pregnant that cycle, the progesterone goes away and thats when the period comes.
That decrease in progesterone causes your uterus sheds its lining, which results in a period.
If you can prolong the progesterone, thats the most effective way to stop your period, says Dr. Jhaveri. Youre faking your body into thinking youre pregnant.
Yes Using Birth Control To Suppress Menstruation Is Considered Very Safe By Doctors And Ob
Doctors say it’s just as healthy to skip your period each month as it is to have it. You have the option of using birth control to suppress menstruation. Birth Control pills allow you to skip your period altogether with continuous cycling or just have four periods a year .
Safety and Risks
Birth control users who choose to skip periods have shown no additional health risk when compared to birth control users who have a monthly cycle. Some women who skip their periods may also experience breakthrough bleeding, but it will typically subside.
Its also important to note that many types of hormonal birth control contain estrogen, which is known to increase the risk of developing blood clots. This risk is the same for both users who do and do not suppress menstruation. In addition, birth control pills containing drospirenone have been found to raise the blood-clot risk even further than standard estrogen pills, without providing any additional benefit over the other available birth control options.
Although there are no known health risks associated with skipping menstruation, women may express a preference for monthly menstruation because they rely on it as a signal that they are not pregnant or because they view it as a sign that their bodies are functioning normally. If youre interested in skipping your period, make sure to check with your doctor so they can give you the best recommendation based on your needs and your medical history.
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How Hormonal Birth Control Works
Combined birth control pills use synthetic versions of progestin and estrogen hormones that your body produces to mimic a 28-day cycle. Seven of your 28 pills are actually placebo pills, aka the sugar pills . There is a critical difference: the bleeding that happens during your week of sugar pills is actually whats known as withdrawal bleeding. Thats when your body reacts to the cessation of the hormones. So the period that you get if youre on hormonal birth control like the pill, the patch, or NuvaRing isnt actually a period per se, and that matters, because it means that with oral contraceptives, you can safely use birth control to hack your cycle to delay or even indefinitely opt out of monthly bleeding.
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Adjusting To The Pill
Some women may notice minor changes when first starting the pill. These changes are usually greatly improved or go away completely after the first two to three months. Possible changes may include:
- Breast tenderness or fullness
- Nausea – taking pills with food should help call the clinic if vomiting is a problem.
- Spotting – does not mean there is something wrong with you or that the pill is too strong or weak for you
- Very short and light periods – some women will have only a drop of blood or brown smear on a pad, tampon, or underwear. It is normal for some women to miss a period completely or have no bleeding .
- Weight gain/fluid retention – usually not greater than 5 pounds. A healthy diet, less intake of salty foods and regular exercise will help.
- Acne – a few women may have an acne flare-up
- Mood changes – usually mild and temporary
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Can Birth Control Help Regulate Your Period
While you might not be able to make your monthly visitor disappear forever, many forms of birth control can help regulate your period. This is great news for people living with irregular cycles and painful or heavy periods. According to the ACOG, combined hormonal methods that contain estrogen and progestin can make your period more regular, lighter, and shorter. This includes birth control pills, the patch, and the vaginal ring.
The bottom line is this: If you view your period as a monthly reassurance that youre not pregnant, then you might prefer to see it arrive on schedule. But if thats not you, asking your doctor about the types of birth control that are most likely to stop your period is something to consider.
What If I Decide I Dont Want To Keep Skipping My Period
Lets say youve already taken at least 3 weeks of active pills and you really want to have regular monthly bleeding again. Not to fear, you can pause for a period any time you want . Just stop taking the active pills for 47 days . Tip: it may help you stay on track to plan for a bleed when it is your placebo time . Then, start taking the active pills again after the 47 days.
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Skipping Periods Could Reduce The Risk Of Ovarian Cancer
Turning off periods by continually using hormonal birth control could also lessen a person’s chance of anemia, endometriosis, and even certain cancers.
“We know that the only way to is to turn off the eggs from popping out every single month for five years, and that will decrease your risk of ovarian cancer by 50%,” Yen said.
The thickening of the uterine lining can also have negative effects. “Prolonged thickening of the uterine lining increases the risk of endometrial cancer, and birth-control pills prevent this and are thus associated with a lower risk of this cancer,” Hillard said. Decreasing the number of times the uterine lining thickens over a person’s lifetime can decrease their risk of developing endometrial cancer.
Some experts have safety concerns. The Society of Menstrual Cycle Research, a volunteer organization composed of interdisciplinary researchers, has said that “menstruation is not a disease” and that “further research on the potential health risks and long-term safety of cycle-stopping contraception is still needed.”
Jessica Barnack-Tavlaris, a professor of psychology at The College of New Jersey and outgoing SMCR secretary, said movements like #PeriodsOptional also reinforced menstruation stigmas.
“We’re socialized in a culture that stigmatizes menstruation, and we’re not typically taught to pay attention to, think about, or report any positive aspects of it. We’re hyperfocused on the negative aspects,” Barnack-Tavlaris told Insider.
The History Of Periods On The Pill
Since combined hormone birth control pills were first marketed in the 1960s, they were sold in packs rather than in bottles of pills in the belief that women would need the daily reminder of having each pill in a slot labeled with a day of the week. They were packaged with 21 active pills and 7 placebo pills, because researchers who developed the pill thought that mimicking a 28-day menstrual cycle would make the pill more socially acceptable, both for patients and for regulators, physicians, and clergy.
Birth control from Nurx costs as little as $0 with insurance or $15 per month without insurance.
Using an artificial period to make the pill seem natural might seem silly, until you realize that prior to the US Supreme Courts Griswold v. Connecticut decision in 1965, states could outlaw contraception, and some did. And because that decision protected only married couples, single people didnt have a Constitutional right to contraception until the Eisenstadt v. Baird decision in 1972! So making the pill seem like it caused a normal menstrual period was likely a smart decision that helped hormonal birth control get FDA approval.
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What Happens To Your Body When You Purposely Skip Your Period
According to the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, most women will have an average of 450 menstrual periods during their lifetime. Additionally, according to a recent survey they conducted, over 80 percent of respondents reported adverse, period-related symptoms including bloating, moodiness, cramps, and irritability.
But there’s good news! Get ready to throw away your pads and tampons, because you can use hormonal birth control to skip your individual periods whenever you need to or stop menstruating altogether. You can do this on the pill by skipping your placebo pills every month, or you can opt to halt your period entirely with an IUD, injections, implants, and more.
Even if your period isn’t so bad, you can still suppress it for the sake of convenience. So if you’ve been approved for hormonal birth control by your doctor and haven’t had any problems with it, read on! This is what happens to your body when you purposely skip your period.
How Does Skipping A Period On Birth Control Pills Work
When you take that traditional seven-day break from hormones on the pill, you’re not really getting your period because you’re not ovulating. Instead, you’re having what’s called a “withdrawal bleed” triggered by that brief hormone-free pause.
Sure, birth control manufacturers may have thought this bleed would make the pill feel more natural. But it’s not actually a natural thing, , medical director of Women’s Healthcare of Princeton in New Jersey pointed out.
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