How to Skip Your Period With Birth Control Pills

It's safe to skip your period by taking the pill. Birth control pills let you control your menstrual cycle; that includes choosing when (or if) you want to get pregnant, as well as whether you want to have a monthly period in the form of a withdrawal bleed.

When using the pill as normally instructed, you take three weeks of pills that have hormones, then one week of hormone-free (inactive or placebo) pills. If you skip the latter and start a new pack, you will skip having a period as well.

This article covers why you might want to skip a period with the pill, how to do it, and what to expect.

Birth control pills and a number circled on a calendar
Jamie Grill / Getty Images

Safety of Skipping Periods

When you're taking the pill, you are not having a true period because you are not building up a uterine lining. The bleeding you have during the week you take the pills in your pack with no hormones in them (placebo or "sugar pills") is called a withdrawal bleed.

Many people who menstruate would prefer to have extended menstrual cycles. Some people have medical reasons for wanting to skip a period—for example, because they have symptoms like headaches, cramping, painful periods, heavy bleeding, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Sometimes, people have practical reasons for skipping a period—for instance, because they have a vacation coming up or they're working on a big project at work or school. In these times, not having to deal with a period can be a relief physically and emotionally.

When it comes to research on the safety of skipping periods, studies have consistently shown that it is not dangerous and won't cause any long-term problems. Many experts say there is no medical or health need for you to have a withdrawal bleed-type "period" on birth control.

It's fine to not take the placebo pills because they do not have medication in them. They are useful because they help you keep track of when it's time to start a new pack of pills. As long as you take the active pills at the right times, skipping the placebo pills will not make your birth control less effective.

Are There Risks of Skipping Your Period With the Pill?

There are still many unknowns about menstruation in general because there have not been many long-term studies. Based on what is currently known, however, it is likely safe to skip your period with birth control.

There are a few things you need to keep in mind, however:

  • You might miss that you’re pregnant. While the pill is an effective form of birth control when used correctly, it’s not perfect. If you’re skipping your period with the pill, you won’t have a missed expected period as a possible early sign that you’re pregnant.
  • You might not realize you have a health condition. Your period can tell you a lot about your health. Sometimes, when things aren’t going as usual with your monthly flow, it can be a sign that you have a condition like endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or even a thyroid condition. Not getting regular periods can also be a sign that you're overexercising or not eating enough.
  • You may have spotting. When you change up how you’re taking your birth control, you might have some breakthrough bleeding the week you would have had the withdrawal bleed (though it probably won’t be as heavy or last as long). You may also have some spotting at other times in your cycle as your body tries to adjust the hormonal shifts. It should get better over time, but it can be frustrating and inconvenient.
  • You might forget to take your pills. The placebo pills may not have any effect on your body, but they do help you stay on track with taking your birth control. If you plan to skip the week of inactive pills and start a new pack, but forget or don’t get a new pack in time, you could get thrown off your routine and the pill may not be as effective.

If you have any concerns about using the pill to skip a period, talk to your provider.

How to Take the Pill So You Skip Your Period

Here is how to skip your period using birth control pills:

  1. Choose the month when you do not want to have a period.
  2. Continue to take all the pills in your pack during the month before when you want to skip a period.
  3. After finishing the pack's active pills, do not start taking the inactive (placebo) pills. Instead, start day 1 of your next pill pack on the day that you would have taken your first placebo pill.
  4. Keep taking all the active pills in your new pack.
  5. When you reach the placebo pills, your monthly withdrawal bleeding "period" should come back unless you repeat the steps above.

You may have some spotting or breakthrough bleeding at the time when you would have gotten your "period."

How to Plan to Skip Your Period

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when you're planning to skip your period:

  • Make sure you have enough pill packs. If you only want to skip one period, then you'll need two packs of pills—one for your current month and one for the upcoming month.
  • Keep track of where you are in your pill pack. You must start the next pack during the fourth week of your previous pack (the week with the inactive pills).
  • If you only want to skip one period, continue as you normally would when you begin your next pack of pills. If you want to skip the next month’s period as well, repeat steps 2 to 5 in "How to Use the Pill to Skip Your Period."
  • Ask your healthcare provider about prescribing more pills for you so that you can skip your period whenever you want. You could also ask for a prescription for a quarterly birth control pill like Seasonique.

Some insurance companies will not allow you to pick up your prescription early. If you're planning to skip your period and need to purchase your next pack of pills before the end of the month, check with your insurance first.

What If I'm Using the Pill For the First Time?

If you haven't started birth control yet but you know you'll want to use the pill to skip your period, here are a few things you need to do first:

  • Get a prescription for birth control pills from a healthcare provider.
  • Plan ahead. You typically need to wait for your next period to begin before you can start taking birth control pills.
  • Make sure you have at least three weeks to take all of the active pills in your pack before the week you want to skip a period.


When you're taking birth control pills, you don't have a real period. During the week that you take the inactive pills in your pack, you have a withdrawal bleed. It is safe to skip this "period" if you want to, and it's easy to do.

Skipping a period with the pill won't make your birth control less effective. Just make sure you have enough pill packs and that you follow the steps above.

You may have spotting or "breakthrough bleeding" during the week when you would have had your "period," but it should be lighter than your regular withdrawal bleed. If you skip your period long-term, you may find that the spotting eventually goes away.

15 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading

By Dawn Stacey, PhD, LMHC
Dawn Stacey, PhD, LMHC, is a published author, college professor, and mental health consultant with over 15 years of counseling experience.