Does Birth Control Stop Your Period?

By Terez Malka, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
March 22, 2022

It is normal to want to skip or delay a period. Many people experience discomforting symptoms with their menstrual cycle and sometimes need a break. They may experience heavy bleeding, painful cramps, and other symptoms that can get in the way of daily life.  

Many people decide to halt their monthly cycle because it may be more convenient. Halting your menstrual cycle is safe. However, it is better to be informed about how it is done.

If you are curious about how to do this, possible side effects, or the types of birth control you can use to halt your period, keep reading.

In this article, we will look at how to evade a period and its possible side effects on the body. 

What Is Birth Control?

Contraceptive, commonly referred to as birth control, is something that you use to prevent or reduce the chances of pregnancy.

On the other hand, contraception is the act of preventing pregnancy using contraceptives.

There are several methods of birth control that work in different ways in the body. 

Some birth controls work by preventing the sperm from getting to the egg.

This variety of birth control methods do not include hormones.

Examples of this type of contraceptive include:

  • Diaphragms 
  • Condoms 
  • Contraceptive sponges
  • Cervical caps

On the other hand, hormonal birth control methods keep the ovaries from releasing eggs that could otherwise be fertilized by sperm.

These types include:

  • Birth control pills
  • The patch
  • The hormonal shot
  • IUDs (though these do not always have to be hormonal) 
  • Vaginal rings

When choosing the suitable birth control method for you, it is important to be informed about how it may affect your body.

Talking with a healthcare professional about starting a birth control method can help you choose the form that best suits your body and needs.

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Types of Birth Control That Stop Your Period

Hormonal birth control methods can delay or stop a person’s menstrual cycle.

While some people do not want this to happen, some desire it.  

The types of birth control that stop or delay your monthly period include:

IUD

The Intrauterine Device (IUD) is a small, T-shaped object that gets inserted into a patient’s uterus.

The IUD is effective and can remain in place for up to five years.

There are two types of IUDs – hormonal and non-hormonal. 

Non-hormonal IUDs are distributed by the brand Paragard. This type of IUD releases a tiny amount of copper (a toxic substance to sperm), which prevents pregnancy.

Since it does not have hormones, it will not stop your periods. In some cases, people with non-hormonal IUDs have reported heavier than usual menstrual bleeding as a side effect. 

In the case of hormonal IUDs, four types have been approved for use in the United States. The types include:

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

People who use the hormonal IUD often find their periods become lighter and shorter.

A meta-analysis of the hormonal IUD has suggested that approximately 20% of users do not have a period for 90 days or longer within their first year after the IUD insertion.

However, others continue to have menstrual bleeding, may have irregular cycles, or may experience additional spotting between periods.

There is no way to predict how your menstrual cycle will be affected by your IUD; this is an important thing to keep in mind.

However, if the IUD seems like the right birth control method for you, a lightened or ceased menstrual cycle may just be an added benefit. 

Patch or ring

Birth control patches are a method of birth control that is worn externally. A new patch gets applied to the body once a week for three weeks.

The patch is then removed the following week (the fourth week).

During this one week, the menstrual cycle will be able to begin. 

Like the patch, the birth control ring (Nuvaring) is inserted into the vagina for three weeks. The ring is then removed in the fourth week, allowing for a period to flow. 

Each of these methods works by releasing hormones into the bloodstream.

The hormones that each type releases are estrogen and progestin, which stop ovulation and thicken the mucus in the cervix.

This effect makes it more difficult for sperm to travel through the cervix; thus, the sperm will not be able to fertilize an egg. 

If you want to skip your menstrual cycle, you can simply skip the week off and go right and insert the new patch or ring in the fourth week. 

The pill

Hormonal birth control pills come in the form of combination pills or progestin-only pills. The combination oral contraceptive pill contains estrogen as well as progestin.

Each pill is taken daily at the same time each day to prevent pregnancy. 

The pills come in packs that contain four weeks’ worth of pills.

The combination birth control pill comes with 5-7 days worth of placebo pills; these will likely be a different color than the active pill.

The placebo pills have no active ingredients or hormones in them.

Taking the placebo pills will allow for the menstrual cycle to begin.

If you want to skip your period that month, you can decide not to take the placebo pills and instead begin a new pack of active pills once the old one runs out. 

Unlike the combination pill, the progestin-only birth control pill is taken continuously; this does not allow you to skip a period, though you may notice changes to your menstrual bleeding while taking it.

Hormonal shot

The hormonal shot is a form of contraception that works by injecting progestin into a patient’s buttocks every three months. 

This method of contraception affects each person differently.

Certain people experience changes to their period from having a heavier period, lighter period, spotting between periods, or none at all. The effect will depend on how your body reacts to this method. 

Is It Safe To Stop Your Period?

In 2014 a research review found that it is safe to stop your periods with birth control methods.

There have not been any studies that have found adverse effects of using a continuous birth control schedule to halt periods. 

Some doctors are of the opinion that you can suppress your menstrual cycle for long periods of time if you want to.

There is no evidence of long-term studies on the effects of doing this.

But you should know that combination birth control pills do come with increased risks of health conditions such as blood clots, strokes, and liver tumors, and these risks are not changed by using the pills continuously to suppress your period. 

Additionally, it will be more difficult to detect pregnancy if you are not getting a regular period. 

Using Birth Control To Stop Your Period

Below are ways birth control methods work to stop your period.

IUD

Getting the IUD inserted may cause some people to have lighter periods or cause their periods to stop entirely. These are both normal reactions to the procedure. 

If you use a hormonal IUD, you do not need to do anything else to stop your period. Your body will be able to respond on its own to the IUD.

Some people with the hormonal IUD will experience lighter periods or have their periods stop altogether. Not everyone who gets the hormonal IUD will experience effects- others continue to have periods and/or spotting.

Patch or ring

It is possible to safely skip or stop your period with contraceptive methods such as the patch or birth control ring. 

To do this, you will change the rate at which you alternate the patch or ring from what the product suggests. The patch is meant to be replaced every week for three weeks.

The same applies to the ring. However, on the fourth week, you are expected to take them off/out to allow you to have your period.

But, if you don’t want to see your period, instead of taking out the patch or ring in the fourth week, simply switch to a fresh patch or ring immediately after discarding the previous one.

This will prevent you from starting your period. 

If you choose to wear the birth control patch or use the ring continuously, you will skip your period.

If you intend to skip your period for a longer time, you should speak with your doctor about updating your prescription. This will help since you will be going through more patches or rings each year.

The pill

People who take combination oral contraceptive pills can safely skip periods by taking their active pills continuously. 

Instead of taking the placebo pills at the end of the package, begin a new package of active birth control pills. You will not get your period if you do this. 

The progestin-only pill does not come with a placebo pill, so people who take this birth control pill cannot change the way they take these to skip their menstrual cycle, though some taking it may experience lighter periods or missed periods. Others may continue to have regular periods, while others have irregular bleeding or spotting.

Hormonal shot

The contraceptive injection (Depo-Provera)  may cause some individuals to experience lighter periods or for their periods to stop altogether, while others still have periods or may have extra bleeding or spotting.

The results of the shot do vary from person to person. 

Using the contraceptive injection does not allow you to control whether or not your period changes or stops.

However, it is important to keep track of when your injections are due to protect against unplanned pregnancy. 

Side Effects

There are going to be side effects when taking any hormonal birth control, ranging from mild to severe from person to person. Taking hormonal birth control to skip a period may lead to slightly varied side effects.

Breakthrough bleeding or “spotting” is one common side effect of using birth control to skip a period.

Spotting is bleeding from the vagina that can occur in the middle of your cycle when you normally would not expect a period. It will typically be lighter bleeding than a period. 

It may take time for your body to adjust to skipping its period, and you may experience spotting during this period. This is common and is not something to be concerned about. 

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When to See a Doctor

It is important to know how to skip a period safely. If you have any questions or concerns about skipping your period, you should talk to your healthcare provider. 

If you experience:

  • Heavy or prolonged vaginal bleeding
  • severe cramping
  • Heart attacks or stroke
  • Liver disease
  • Elevated blood pressure

or any other side effects while on any method of birth control, speak to your doctor. 

You do not need to be concerned about hormonal birth control stopping your period; however, if your period stops and you do not use hormonal birth control, contact your doctor.

Your healthcare provider will help you figure out why this may be happening and what steps to take next.

If you become pregnant while using birth control, let your doctor know right away.

How K Health Can Help

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Frequently Asked Questions

How does birth control work?
There are different kinds of birth control, which are methods of preventing pregnancy for sexually active people. Some birth control works by preventing the sperm from getting to the egg (like condoms or diaphragms) - these methods do not include hormones. Hormonal birth control methods keep the ovaries from releasing eggs that could otherwise be fertilized by sperm.
How does birth control affect your period?
Hormonal birth control is the only variety of birth control that will affect your period. The effect of birth control on your period will vary depending on the type of hormonal birth control you use. Some hormonal birth control methods will lighten or stop your period. This kind of effect will vary from person to person. Other birth control methods, such as the pill, will allow you to prevent your period altogether.

K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Terez Malka, MD

Dr. Terez Malka is a board-certified pediatrician and emergency medicine physician.