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 — it’s while taking the placebo pills that people have their periods.
What Birth Control Should I Take For Less Frequent Periods?
To have a period once a season instead of once a month, the easiest option is to choose a pill designed for this purpose. Continuous birth control pills generally include 84 days, or 12 weeks, of hormone-containing pills followed by 7 days of pills that contain either no estrogen or very low doses. Continuous birth control pills are combination pills, but their relatively low amounts of estrogen mean that even when you do have your period it will generally be light.
Some of the most common brands of continuous birth control include:
What Birth Control Should I Take For Shorter Periods?
Some pills stick to the traditional 28-day cycle while reducing the number of placebo pills contained in each pack. This causes women who take these pills to experience shorter periods. Pills with 24 days worth of hormone-containing pills and 4 days of placebo pills include:
Another option is Lo Loestrin Fe, which contains 26 active combination pills, 2 estrogen-only pills, and 2 placebo pills. This particular sequence leads to periods that are generally lighter and shorter than they would be otherwise.
What Birth Control Should I Take If I Want to Skip My Period Entirely?
It is possible to avoid your period simply by taking your existing birth control and skipping the 7 days of placebo pills, going straight from one 21 day run of hormone-containing pills to another. By taking the active pills continuously, you’re keeping your body’s hormones at a constant level and preventing the hormonal shifts that generally accompany menstruation. Birth control pills not intended for this kind of continuous use may cause higher incidences of breakthrough bleeding or spotting, so the Nurx medical team generally recommends taking a week off to have a period every 3 to 4 months.
Some pills, however, are designed to be taken continuously without any need for “off” weeks. Amethia, for example, is a birth control pill brand designed to be taken continuously for 84 days followed by 7 days of estrogen-only pills.
For women who want a method other than the pill, the birth control ring can be taken in a way that prevents menstruation from occurring — instead of removing your ring after three weeks and taking a ring-free week to have a period, simply leave the ring in for four weeks then remove it and immediately replace it with a new ring
What Are The Benefits of Skipping Periods?
The benefits to skipping your period may seem obvious, but there are even more than you might realize. In addition to sidestepping the cramps and mood swings that often accompany menstruation, the benefits of skipping periods can be particularly pronounced for women who have particularly severe period-related symptoms such as heavy bleeding or menstrual migraines. Using birth control to skip periods can also help prevent ovarian cysts, and reduce endometriosis symptoms.
The only real risk incurred by skipping periods with birth control is some additional breakthrough bleeding, but this can usually be solved by taking a break to have a period every 3-4 months.
If you’re interested in getting birth control that allows you to skip your periods, Nurx can help you find the brand or method that’s right for you. Get in touch with a member of our team of experts today to see what we have to offer.