How to Skip Your Period With Birth Control Pills

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Some are interested in learning how to skip a period with birth control because of the symptoms they experience when menstruating. Others want to use the pill to avoid having a period for convenience reasons.

In either case, experts say it's safe. It's also easy to do: Instead of taking three weeks of active (hormone-containing pills) and then a week of inactive (hormone-free, placebo) pills, skip the latter and immediately move on to your next pack.

This article discusses how to skip a period on birth control, why it works, the reasons some opt to do this, and what to expect if you try it.

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

Why Skip a Period?

Many people prefer to extend menstrual cycles for medical or practical reasons.

Medical reasons for skipping a period might include having symptoms like:

Some practical reasons for skipping a period might include:

  • An upcoming vacation
  • A big project at work or school
  • Being in a remote location with few facilities

How Birth Control Can Help You Skip a Period

While using the pill, you're not having an actual period because you're not building up a uterine lining. The bleeding you experience during the week you take the placebo pills is called a withdrawal bleed.

A withdrawal bleed simply occurs because the body is responding to the lack of hormones in these inactive pills. When the hormone-containing pills are resumed, the bleeding stops.

Since withdrawal bleeding only occurs when hormones are no longer being delivered, taking only the active pills can keep it from happening.

How to Skip Your Period Taking the Pill

Here is how to skip your period using traditional 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 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 in the second pack, your monthly withdrawal bleeding "period" should come back unless you repeat the steps above.

Switching to a quarterly pill like Seasonique is another option. Instead of three weeks of active and a week of inactive pills, you take 84 consecutive days of estrogen/progestin pills followed by seven days of estrogen-only pills.

This continuous birth control allows you to have only four periods per year.

Planning for a Skipped Period

A bit of advanced planning can help you successfully skip a period with birth control. Here are some things to keep in mind.

First-Time Pill Users

You typically need to wait for your next period to begin before you can start taking birth control pills.

Your healthcare provider may want to see how your body reacts to the pill before you start using it to skip your period. Speak to them about what makes the most sense for you.

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. If you want to skip back to back periods, you'll need more.

Ask your healthcare provider to write a prescription that allows the pharmacy to dispense several packs at a time. If you are using insurance, be sure to check that your plan allows for this.

If you usually get your birth control one pack at a time, you may be able to pick up your next prescription early. Again, be sure your insurance approves of this.

Check the Calendar and Stay on Track

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.

You must start the next pack during the fourth week of your previous pack. It's easy to forget this if you are used to taking birth control pills in the traditional way.

It may help to pop all of the inactive pills out of the pack as soon as you get it, so you don't accidentally take them out of habit.

If you have a reminder about when to start your next pill pack set on your phone or marked on your calendar, be sure to adjust it.

Is It Safe to Skip Periods?

When it comes to research on the safety of skipping periods, studies have consistently shown that it is safe 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" period on birth control.

It's fine to skip the placebo pills because they don't have medication in them. But they are useful for helping 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.

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

Potential Risks

There are some other risks of using birth control to skip your period that you should be aware of:

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.

Using birth control to skip periods means you won't get these messages from your body.

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 to 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 don't have an 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.


To skip a period using birth control, take the three weeks of hormone-containing pills, then skip the week of placebo pills. Start a new pack of pills instead.

It is safe to skip this "period" if you want to. You may have spotting or "breakthrough bleeding" during the week when you would have bled, 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.

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.

11 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.