The Answer Once And For All: Is It Safe To Skip Your Period With Birth Control?

Your period might seem small in the grand scheme of things, but it can stand in your way of enjoying that wild pool party or steamy date night you've been longing for. The Office on Women's Health states that an average woman gets a monthly period for about 40 years of her life. Imagine how many opportunities a person has to pass up in a lifetime just because monthly periods come like clockwork. The good news is, you can take a reprieve from this seemingly unending cycle of menstruation.

Naturally speaking, there's no method that can actually help you skip your period. But certain medications — such as hormonal birth control — might help you trick your own body and allow you to gain more control over your menstrual cycles. According to Mayo Clinic, several types of hormonal birth control can be used to reduce the number of periods you have. Birth control pills, vaginal rings, and hormonal intrauterine devices can help delay or prevent a period. Depending on your goals and your health conditions, you can consult your healthcare professional for the method that works best for you. Many women have resorted to hormonal birth control for skipping their periods, so there's no questioning the efficacy of this method. But here's a point to ponder: is it actually safe to skip your period on birth control? Here are some insights from experts.

Birth control pills

You can safely delay or skip your period with any combination of hormonal birth control pills. But before we dig further into how birth control pills work, let's first go back to the basics. Per Planned Parenthood, most combined estrogen and progestin pills are sold in 28-day or 21-day packets. In both packs, you'll find 21 active pills that contain hormones. However, a 28-day pack usually comes with seven inactive pills — or placebo pills — which are put there just to remind you to take your pill every day.

Now, if you want to skip your period, throw away the seven inactive pills and go straight to a new pack of active pills, obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Alyse Kelly-Jones tells Health. Dr. Kelly-Jones says doing this for just one menstrual cycle can cause your period to be delayed by up to three weeks. The only condition is that, if you have not already been using hormonal birth control, you must give yourself a couple of weeks to get started on the pills. You can't expect to skip your period when you're only starting to take active pills a few days before your period is due. You'll only start getting your period again once you've stopped taking the active pills. There are various types of pills that can help you extend the interval between periods. If you're new to combination pills or you're on other medications, you'll need a physician's help with finding the most suitable tablets for your body.


Extended or continuous use of the birth control vaginal ring — also known as the NuvaRing — can also help delay or prevent a period. A contraceptive device small and flexible enough to fit inside your vagina, a vaginal ring works by consistently releasing estrogen and progesterone into your bloodstream, which suppresses ovulation and prevents pregnancy, according to the NHS.

Usually, when you're using a NuvaRing, you take it out after three weeks and wait for another seven days before putting a new one in. However, if you want to skip your period, you should replace the old vaginal ring with a new one right after three weeks, Healthily advises. To achieve optimal results, make it a scheduled thing: pick a fixed date every month and insert a new vaginal ring on that date. However, it's worth pointing out that the effect of this method — like other hormonal birth control methods — can be different for different people. For some, it can reduce the number of periods or make them lighter, while for others, it can stop the period altogether. However, there's a small possibility that using the vaginal ring might increase the risks of blood clot formation in your veins. To err on the safe side, you should discuss this with your healthcare professional before starting it. 

Hormonal intrauterine devices

A hormonal intrauterine device (IUD) — a long-term birth control method — can also help you miss a period or make it shorter. Made of molded plastic, a hormonal IUD is a T-shaped contraceptive device that, once placed into your uterus, releases levonorgestrel that can help prevent pregnancy for up to ten years or more, according to Cleveland Clinic. Of course, you can have it removed anytime you want. All hormonal IUDs can lessen the frequency and length of menstrual bleeding. When the endometrium sheds, it leaves the body through the vagina, which causes periods. Because levonorgestrel from hormonal IUDs helps thin the endometrium, there is not much of it to shed, which results in lighter and shorter periods.

Hormonal IUDs come in varying doses. A larger dose IUD (52 mg of levonorgestrel) may be more effective in preventing periods, according to Mayo Clinic. For instance, 20% of women report having no periods a year after having a 52-mg-dose IUD implanted, while 30% to 50% of women claim they haven't had a period after two years. As of now, Mirena, Liletta, Kyleena, and Skyla are the most common types of hormonal IUDs offered in the U.S. "The Mirena IUD works even better than pills to reduce overall bleeding," obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Lisa Dabney tells Healthline. "Many women on the Mirena IUD either get very light periods or no periods at all." Planned Parenthood points out some risks of this form of birth control, such as ectopic pregnancy and infection is also a risk.

DMPA injections

The depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) injection, commonly referred to as "the shot," is a commonly used reversible contraceptive method that you get every three months to prevent pregnancy, per KFF. After being administered, the shot releases the hormone DMPA, a progestin that solidifies cervical mucus to prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg and inhibits ovulation. The shot can help reduce the number of your scheduled periods.

According to FHI, the progestin in DMPA, after being injected into the bloodstream, can cause amenorrhea — the absence of menstrual bleeding. The reason is progestin makes the endometrium become thinner, leading to infrequent menstruation or no bleeding at all. Normal menstruation returns once women stop using DMPA. Although DMPA is generally safe and effective, it has been linked with side effects such as acne breakout, weight gain, headache, alopecia, and abdominal bloating. If you want to try this method, consult your healthcare professional first to see if you're a good candidate for it. 

While skipping your period can help you avoid bodily discomfort, it's not without drawbacks. For instance, consistently delaying your menses makes it hard to tell when you're actually pregnant. While it's generally safe to do, you will want to discuss your concerns with your doctor and let them help you make the safest decision.