The short answer: Yes!
Right at the beginning when oral contraceptives were first invented, medical experts more or less agreed that women could take the pill continuously without any serious risks or side effects. However, 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.
What this means is that if you want to skip your period, whether just once for a special occasion or every month, you absolutely can!
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 — for example, 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 ring, 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.
Bleeding While Using Birth Control
Even though it is clear that missing your period while on the pill is completely safe, many women still assume that this is somehow dangerous. This is perhaps because having a regular menstrual cycle feels more “natural”.
But in reality, the "period" that you get while taking hormonal birth control isn't exactly 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 experience any period at all.
Side Effects of Skipping Periods With Birth Control
Clinical evidence has shown there are no dangers of skipping a period or having lighter periods. However, one harmless but annoying side effect of skipping periods is 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 remember, 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 while on birth control, and more women would probably prefer this option if they understood how safe it is.
Our medical team has loads of experience prescribing birth control to women who want to use it to skip their periods. They are more than happy to answer any questions you've got and can help you find a method of contraception that’s right for your body and lifestyle.
If you have any questions for our medical team, you can book a video consultation with one of our licensed physicians.
Otherwise, visit our website to find out more about the contraception we offer.