Does Birth Control Stop Periods?

Reviewed on 6/21/2022

Woman making a face while reading birth control labeling information
Combined hormonal contraceptives such as the pill and vaginal ring can be used to skip menstrual periods. In some cases, those who use injectable birth control may also not have periods while using it.

Birth control, also called contraception, refers to devices or methods used to prevent pregnancy.

Certain kinds of birth control can stop periods.

  • Combined hormonal contraceptives such as the pill and vaginal ring can be used to skip menstrual periods.
  • In some cases, those who use injectable birth control may also not have periods while using it. 

Combination oral contraceptive (COC) pills usually come in 28-day packs and are taken without interruption. 

  • The first 21 pills in a pack contain hormones to prevent pregnancy (“active” pills). 
  • The last seven pills in a pack are inactive placebos that do not contain hormones (“reminder” pills) taken during the fourth week so a period can occur and the habit of taking a pill on a regular basis can continue.
  • Some people may opt to skip the placebo pills (“reminder” pills) and go straight into the next pack so they can stop a period continuously or during certain events such as a vacation. Some light bleeding or spotting may still occur. 

Talk to your doctor if you are interested in taking birth control to stop periods.

Are There Risks to Stopping Periods?

For those who are not planning to become pregnant in the future, there is no need for a menstrual period

The purpose of a menstrual cycle is to prepare the uterus for pregnancy each time ovulation occurs. If pregnancy is not desired, there is no health reason why you need to have a menstrual period. 

The hormones in birth control stop ovulation from occurring and prevent the uterus from building up a thick lining. If there is no blood lining building up, there is none that needs to come out. 

For some people, using hormonal birth control continuously and stopping periods may help prevent painful menstrual cramping or heavy bleeding that can result in anemia.

Side effects of hormonal birth control such as the pill or ring that can be used to stop periods may include:

SLIDESHOW

Choosing Your Birth Control Method See Slideshow

What Are the Types of Birth Control?

There are a variety of birth control methods to choose from, depending on your lifestyle, needs, and health condition.

Types of birth control include: 

  • Hormonal methods of birth control 
    • Use hormones to regulate or stop ovulation and prevent pregnancy
    • Some of these methods can be used to skip periods
      • Short-acting hormonal methods
        • Injectable birth control that uses the female hormone progestin administered in the arm or buttocks once every 3 months
        • Progestin-only pills (POPs) are taken orally once daily, usually at the same time each day
      • Combined hormonal methods contain a combination of the female hormones estrogen and progestin 
        • Combined oral contraceptives (also called COCs or “the pill”) are taken orally once daily at the same time each day
          • These usually have 21 “active” pills and 7 “reminder” placebo pills
          • If the placebo pills are skipped and the next pack with active pills is started right away, this may stop a period from occurring
        • Contraceptive patches are applied to the skin and release hormones through the skin into the bloodstream
        • A vaginal ring is a thin, flexible ring that measures approximately 2 inches in diameter inserted into the vagina that continually releases a combination of hormones
  • Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) 
    • The most effective form of reversible contraception
    • Long-term pregnancy prevention that does not require effort on the part of the patient
      • Intrauterine devices (IUDs) (also called an intrauterine system, or IUS) are small, T-shaped devices inserted into the uterus by a health care provider. IUDs remain in place and prevent pregnancy for years. 
        • Hormonal IUDs release the female hormone progestin (levonorgestrel) into the uterus, thickening cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching or fertilizing the egg, thinning the uterine lining, and possibly preventing the ovaries from releasing eggs
        • Copper IUDs prevent sperm from reaching and fertilizing the egg, and prevent an egg from attaching in the uterus. If an egg does become fertilized, a copper IUD can prevent it from implanting into the uterine lining.
      • Implants are implantable rods surgically inserted by a physician under the skin of a woman’s upper arm that release a form of the female hormone progestin and may remain in place for up to five years
  • Barrier methods 
    • Prevent sperm from entering the uterus
    • Are removable and are an option for those unable to use hormonal methods of contraception
    • Barrier methods that do not require a health care provider visit include:
      • Male condoms cover the penis and collect and prevent sperm from entering the woman's body
      • Female condoms are thin, flexible plastic single-use pouches inserted into the vagina before intercourse to prevent sperm from entering the uterus
      • Contraceptive sponges are disposable, soft, spermicide-filled foam sponges inserted into the vagina before intercourse to help block sperm from entering the uterus. The spermicide also kills sperm cells.
      • Spermicides kill sperm cells and may be used alone or in combination with a diaphragm or cervical cap. 
    • Barrier methods that require a health care provider visit include the following:
      • Diaphragms are shallow, flexible cups made of latex or soft rubber inserted into the vagina before intercourse, blocking sperm from entering the uterus. A spermicide should be used with a diaphragm.
    • Cervical caps are similar to diaphragms but are smaller and more rigid. 
  • Emergency contraception 
    • Intended for use after unprotected intercourse or if a condom breaks
      • Copper IUDs can be inserted within 5 days (120 hours) of unprotected intercourse and are a highly effective method of contraception for as long as the device remains in place
      • Emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs, or “morning after pills”) are hormonal pills, taken either as a single dose or two doses 12 hours apart, used in the event of unprotected intercourse. They should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex and are not intended to be used as a regular method of contraception. Emergency contraception is not the same as “the abortion pill.”
  • Sterilization 
    • Surgical procedures that are permanent forms of birth control
    • Sterilization either prevents a woman from getting pregnant or prevents a man from releasing sperm
    • For women
      • A sterilization implant is a nonsurgical method for permanently blocking the fallopian tubes 
      • Tubal ligation (“tubes tied”) is a surgical procedure in which a doctor cuts, ties, or seals the fallopian tubes so sperm cannot reach an egg to fertilize it, and an egg cannot reach the uterus
      • Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus making pregnancy impossible. It is usually performed for reasons other than contraception. 
  • Birth control for men
    • Vasectomy is a surgical procedure that cuts, closes, or blocks the vas deferens, so sperm cannot leave the testes and cannot reach the egg
  • “Natural” birth control 
    • Does not require medication, devices, or surgery
    • These methods are the least effective

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Reviewed on 6/21/2022
References
REFERENCES: Image Source: iStock Images

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https://www.uptodate.com/contents/barrier-and-pericoital-methods-of-birth-control-beyond-the-basics?search=birth%20control%20options&topicRef=8421&source=see_link

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https://www.plannedparenthood.org/

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