Does Birth Control Stop Your Period?

Learn which forms are most likely to stop menstruation and if it's safe

There are many reasons for people to want to delay or skip a period. Some experience very heavy bleeding, painful cramping, or other severe symptoms during their menstrual cycle that they want to avoid. Other people choose to delay their monthly cycle for the sake of convenience, due to travel or other personal events.

But is it safe to skip a period? The short answer is yes, in most cases.

In this article, we'll review which forms of birth control can help prevent a period for days, weeks, months, or even longer, how to so safely, and other concerns.

Woman taking a birth control pill


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Types of Birth Control That May Help Stop Your Period

There are a number of forms of birth control that can delay or stop your period. Your healthcare provider will be able to help you decide which option is best suited to your body, your lifestyle, and your health concerns.

Birth control options that may help stop periods include:

Hormonal IUDs

An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small, flexible, T-shaped contraption that is inserted into the uterus by a doctor to prevent pregnancy. An IUD can remain in place and be effective for years.

There are two types of IUDs: hormonal and nonhormonal. Hormonal IUDs continuously release a tiny amount of the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy.

Many people who use hormonal IUDs find their periods become shorter and lighter. One meta-analysis suggests that approximately 20% of hormonal IUD users go without a period for 90 days or longer within the first year after insertion.

Contrarily, the nonhormonal IUD, sold under the brand name Paragard, releases a tiny amount of copper, which is toxic to sperm, to prevent pregnancy. It has no hormones and is less likely to stop periods.In fact, some people report heavier bleeding as a side effect of using the copper IUD.

In the United States, there are four types of hormonal IUDs approved for use. These include:

  • Mirena: Effective up to seven years
  • Liletta: Effective up to six years
  • Kyleena: Effective up to five years
  • Skyla: Effective up to three years

It's important to note that there's no way to know or control whether a hormonal IUD will have any effect on your menstrual cycle. But if an IUD is the best birth control for you for other reasons, lightening or stopping your period may be a beneficial side effect.

The Patch or Ring

The birth control patch is a method of birth control worn externally on the body. An active patch is applied once a week and worn for three weeks. It is removed for one week to allow for a period.

Similarly, the ring is inserted into the vagina, where it stays for three weeks, and is then removed for one week to allow for a period.

Both birth control methods work by releasing the hormones estrogen and progestin into the bloodstream. This stops ovulation and also helps to thicken the mucus in the cervix, making it harder for sperm to travel through the cervix to fertilize an egg.

To skip a period, you can safely skip the week off and go straight to a new patch or ring.

The Pill

The combination oral contraceptive pill contains both estrogen and progestin. It is taken daily, ideally at the same time to prevent pregnancy.

These pill packs come with five to seven days' worth of placebo pills that are usually colored differently than the active pills and allow for a period. If you wish to skip your period, don't take these pills and instead start a new pack immediately. Taking the active pills continuously can help stop periods.

Unlike combination pills, the progestin-only pill, or minipill, is taken continuously and does not allow you to skip a period.

The Shot

The contraceptive injection, or "shot," involves an injection of progestin into the buttocks every three months.

The shot affects every person differently. Some people may experience changes to their periods, either having heavier periods, lighter periods, or no periods at all.

How to Use Contraceptives to Skip a Menstrual Cycle

Here's how to skip periods depending on the birth control method you use.

IUDs

People who have a hormonal IUD inserted by their doctor may find their periods become lighter or stop entirely. This is normal.

People who use a hormonal IUD don't need to do anything to stop their periods. Your body will respond to the IUD on its own. While some people will see their periods get lighter and, in some cases, stop altogether over the first year, not everyone with an IUD will experience this side effect.

The Patch or Ring

If you use a contraceptive patch or the birth control ring, it's possible to safely skip your period or stop having periods entirely.

Instead of wearing a new patch every week for three weeks and having a patch-free week on week four, apply a new patch to the skin in week four. You then continue to change your patch every week for as long as you wish to continue skipping your period.

With the ring, you will want to insert the ring and leave it in place as usual for three weeks. Then when it's time to remove it, replace it immediately with a new ring to skip your period.

As long as you are continuously wearing a patch or using the ring, you can skip your period.

If you wish to skip your period for an extended time, you will need to talk with your healthcare provider to update your prescription, as you'll go through more patches or rings each year than you normally would taking a week off each month.

The Pill

People on the combined oral contraceptive pill can safely take their active pills continuously to skip periods.

To do this, simply skip the sugar, or placebo, tablets at the end of your pill pack. Instead, start a new pack to continue taking active pills daily at the same time you normally do.

There are no placebo pills for the progestin-only pill, so people using this birth control method cannot safely skip a period.

The Shot

People who use the contraceptive injection or shot may notice their periods become lighter or stop altogether. This may not happen for everyone.

If you use the contraceptive injection, there's nothing you can do to control whether the shot causes your period to stop.

However, it is important to make sure you keep track of when your next injection is due and keep up with your appointment to optimally protect against unplanned pregnancy. This may be every eight to 13 weeks depending on the type of injection.

Benefits of Preventing Periods

There are numerous benefits to preventing periods. For some people, being able to skip periods is helpful for special occasions like weddings or vacations, but there may also be health benefits to skipping or stopping periods.

Less Pain and Fewer Symptoms

People who use birth control to skip periods may experience fewer uncomfortable symptoms like:

  • Cramping
  • Bloating
  • Acne breakouts
  • Menstrual migraines
  • Moodiness

Some Conditions Are Alleviated

Skipping or stopping periods may help in the management of certain conditions like endometriosis, the growth of uterine tissue outside the uterus.

Using birth control to skip periods may also prevent or lower the chances of other conditions from occurring. These include:

  • Anemia, a lack of healthy red blood cells, due to blood loss
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Uterine cancer
  • Ovarian cysts

Taking birth control continuously may also help reduce any ovarian cysts that are already present.

Risks and Side Effects

Using birth control to skip or stop periods won't impact protection against pregnancy, but it may come with side effects. Some side effect may include:

Breakthrough Bleeding (Spotting)

A common side effect of skipping periods on birth control is spotting, or breakthrough bleeding. This is common for people on hormonal birth control.

This is bleeding from the vagina that often occurs in the middle of your cycle when you wouldn't normally expect a period. It is typically lighter than a normal period.

If using birth control to skip or stop periods, it may take a few months for your body to adjust, and breakthrough bleeding may occur during that time. It is normal and not something to be concerned about.

Difficulty Identifying Accidental Pregnancy

Using birth control to skip or stop periods makes no difference to fertility. You will be protected from pregnancy in the same way as you would be if you had a period on birth control. It is safe and will still protect you from pregnancy.

However, skipping periods may make it difficult to notice if you do happen to become pregnant. If you notice symptoms such as breast tenderness or nausea, take a home pregnancy or consult your healthcare provider.

Summary

There are many reasons you may want to skip or stop your period. These include convenience, special occasions, vacations, to avoid uncomfortable symptoms, or to better manage conditions. If you are interested in skipping your period, speak with your healthcare provider. They will be able to advise you on how to skip your period safely using the birth control that they've prescribed you. Your healthcare provider can also be a valuable resource to help you decide which kind of birth control may be best for you.

A Word From Verywell

Skipping periods on birth control may be convenient for vacations or special occasions, but it may also have health benefits like less uncomfortable symptoms, management of conditions like endometriosis, and reduced risk of some cancers.

No matter what your reasons are for wanting to skip your period, know that the practice is safe. If you have questions about what birth control method is best for you or want more information about skipping your period, you should speak with your healthcare provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I know if birth control helped stop my period?

    Some forms of birth control, such as hormonal IUDs and the birth control shot, may make your periods lighter or your periods may stop altogether. This is normal. But this isn't the case for everyone. If you're unsure about why your period has stopped, speak with your healthcare provider.

  • How long does it take birth control to stop a period?

    Certain birth control methods, such as the pill, patch, and ring, allow you to skip or stop your period at your own convenience. Other birth control methods, including hormonal IUDs and the shot, may take a few months to change your menstrual flow, as your body adjusts to the hormones. If you have just started using birth control to skip or stop your period, you may also experience breakthrough bleeding for a while.

  • What does it mean if I don't get my period while on birth control?

    Some people may find birth control makes their period lighter, less regular or stop entirely. This is normal and is not a reason to be concerned.

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15 Sources
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