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Is it Safe to Skip Periods on Birth Control?

Is it Safe to Skip Periods on Birth Control? Image

We often hear this question from Nurx patients. The short answer? Yes! When oral contraceptives were first developed, the medical world more or less agreed that women could take the pill continuously without any serious side effects or risks. But the creators of the pill introduced the cyclic regimen (21 days of active pills followed by seven days of placebo pills) to resemble a monthly cycle, because they thought it would feel more natural and reassure women that they weren’t pregnant. If you want to skip your period, whether just once for a special occasion or every month, read on for all the details.

Advantages to Skipping Periods While Using Birth Control

Decades of contraceptive use has shown that skipping periods on the pill is not only safe but can also have several advantages. For some women, the drop in hormones that accompanies the placebo pill week and period brings on bad menstrual migraines, mood swings, or endometriosis symptoms. So it’s not surprising that in one study, 53% of women surveyed reported wanting to skip their periods completely. Other women like to skip periods occasionally — say to avoid packing tampons on a vacation.

You can prevent your period by skipping the placebo pills in a pack of birth control and starting the active pills of the next pack. Or, if you use the birth control patch or the Nuvaring, apply a new patch or insert a new ring for the last week of your cycle, when you would ordinarily go patch- or ring-free and have a period.  If you want to have a period occasionally, but not every month, try a birth control pill like Amethia which contains three months of active pills before one week of placebos, meaning that you’ll only get a period seasonally instead of monthly.

Bleeding While Using Birth Control

The proven safety of missing periods notwithstanding, many women still assume that skipping their periods on the pill is somehow dangerous. This is probably because having a regular menstrual cycle feels more “natural.”

But when taking hormonal birth control you don’t experience a real period anyway. The bleeding that occurs during the placebo week of oral contraceptive pills isn’t regular menstrual blood — it is actually referred to as “withdrawal bleeding” or “shedding,” as it occurs due to the withdrawal of the hormones that you were taking the other three weeks of the month. Periods on the pill are usually very light, and some women may not have any period at all.

Side Effects of Skipping Periods With Birth Control

Clinical evidence clearly shows there are no dangers of skipping a period or having lighter periods. However, one harmless but annoying side effect of skipping  periods has been breakthrough bleeding or “spotting.” If you find this light, unpredictable bleeding to be a big hassle then having an occasional period, every three months for example, might be the solution.

The only real risk to skipping periods is that it might take you longer to know if you do get pregnant. But when taken correctly the pill is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, so if you’re taking your birth control on time you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

Safety of Skipping Periods With Birth Control

The bottom line: There are no health risks associated with skipping periods on birth control, and more women would probably really like this option if they understood how safe it is.

If you want to learn more, Nurx can help. Our medical team has lots of experience prescribing birth control to women who want to use it to skip their periods. They can help you find a method of contraception that’s right for your body and lifestyle.

This blog pro­vides infor­ma­tion about telemed­i­cine, health and related sub­jects. The blog content and any linked materials herein are not intended to be, and should not be con­strued as a substitute for, med­ical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. Any reader or per­son with a med­ical con­cern should con­sult with an appropriately-licensed physi­cian or other healthcare provider. This blog is provided purely for informational purposes. The views expressed herein are not sponsored by and do not represent the opinions of Nurx™.

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