Pills, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and other birth control methods can stop or delay a period for a variety of reasons, for instance, to reduce cramps or headaches or when the timing will be inconvenient.
This article explores how birth control can stop a period and which type to choose and answers some frequently asked questions.
A person can stop or delay their period using birth control methods. It is also possible to reduce the number of periods a person experiences.
There are various methods a person can choose from to stop their periods.
Several types of birth control can stop periods.
The following table is a direct comparison of some examples of birth control options and their features.
|Birth Control Pill||Birth Control Ring||Intrauterine Device||Depo-Provera Injections||Birth Control Patch|
|Side effects||irregular periods, spotting, nausea, headaches, sore breasts, weight change, and depression||spotting, changes to periods, nausea, headaches, and sore breasts||paint with insertion, cramping after insertion, spotting, and irregular periods||irregular periods, spotting, nausea, weight gain, headaches, sore breasts, and depression||changes to periods, spotting, headaches, nausea, sore breasts, and skin reaction at the patch site|
|Take and replace||daily||every 3-5 weeks||3-6 years||every 3 weeks||every 3 weeks|
|Costs||$20-$50 per month||$20-$50 per month||$500-$1300||$30-$70 per shot||$20-$50 per month|
Birth Control Pills
If a person takes contraceptive pills to stop periods, they will usually take them consecutively with no placebo drug. They may still experience light spotting or breakthrough bleeding.
When taking a break from hormonal birth control, a person may experience withdrawal bleeding, which may resemble a period.
Combination birth control pills (COCs) are a method to pause a person’s period. COCs contain estrogen and progestin.
Examples of COCs include:
- Jolessa: This drug does not stop a period entirely. A person taking this drug brand will have a period every 12 weeks. Jolessa requires a person to take pink tablets for the first 84 days, followed by the white ones for a week.
- Amethyst: A person takes this pill every day for a year and should not get any periods during this time. However, people may get the occasional spotting.
- Seasonique: A person takes this pill every day. They will still have four periods per year because it includes 12 weeks of active pills containing estrogen and progestin followed by 1 week of low dose estrogen pills. Periods typically last around 4 days.
- Quartette: An individual using this method takes active pills for 12 weeks. The active pills provide an increasing estrogen dose, starting with 20 micrograms and ending with 30 micrograms. The person then takes low dose estrogen pills for one week. This reduces the chances of experiencing breakthrough bleeding.
- Amethia: This birth control includes 12 weeks of active pills followed by 7 days of estrogen-only pills. It works similarly to Seasonique.
Learn about the side effects of long-term birth control use.
Birth control ring
A person places a contraceptive ring inside their vagina that releases hormones into the body to prevent ovulation.
When using this as contraception, users remove the ring after 3 weeks to have their period. However, a person can opt to leave it in if they wish to skip their period.
Learn about the differences between spotting and a period here.
This method involves a health professional inserting a T-shaped device into the uterus. It releases a small amount of daily progestin. The device usually stays in place for 3—6 years, but a health professional can remove it at any time.
This device will stop periods altogether for some people, but it may reduce or lighten periods for others.
A 2018 study indicates that this form of contraception is safe and highly effective.
Learn more about the insertion of intrauterine devices here.
The Depo-Provera (DMPA) injection is available in the US and requires a shot every 3 weeks.
It protects against pregnancy and can result in lighter or no menstrual periods. However, it may also result in irregular periods.
Learn more about Depo-Provera injections here.
A person can wear a birth control patch, which they need to change weekly. They can wear it on the lower abdomen, buttocks, or upper body. The patch releases hormones directly into a person’s bloodstream.
Typically, a person would remove the patch for the fourth week to allow for a menstrual period. However, if a person keeps the patch on for this fourth week, it can delay or stop periods altogether.
There are advantages and disadvantages of birth control that stop menstrual periods.
- reduced risk of developing
anemia, ovarian cysts, and ovarian and uterine cancer
- no monthly cramping or premenstrual syndrome
- clearer skin
- lower costs of feminine hygiene products
Disadvantages include the possibility of breakthrough bleeding.
There are many forms of birth control that do not necessarily stop a person’s period, depending on how people take them. They include:
- Birth control implant: This is a matchstick-sized rod that doctors implant into the arm to release hormones into the body and prevent pregnancy.
- Hormonal and nonhormonal IUDs: These are long term and reversible birth control devices that doctors insert into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. They include copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs.
- Birth control shot: This shot will stop periods altogether for some people and lighten periods for others.
- Birth control ring: This is a small, flexible ring that a person inserts into their vagina to prevent pregnancy by releasing hormones into the body.
- Birth control patch: This is a patch worn on certain parts of the body that releases hormones into the skin to prevent pregnancy.
- Certain kinds of birth control pills: Birth control pills are either COCs or progestin-only pills (POPs). COCs release estrogen and progestin into the body, but POPs only release progestin.
- Diaphragm: This is a bendable cup that a person inserts into their vagina to cover the cervix and prevent pregnancy.
- Birth control sponge: This is a small sponge that contains spermicide, which destroys sperm.
- Fertility Awareness Methods: This method involves tracking ovulation to prevent pregnancy.
A person will need to discuss which birth control method is suitable for them with their doctor.
A few other things people may wish to discuss with a doctor include:
- Stopping or reducing periods: Some birth control methods may reduce menstrual bleeding or make them less frequent. A person who wishes to stop their period completely may have a more limited choice of birth control.
- Time to work: Some methods may take 6 months before a person sees changes in their periods.
- Long or short term: Methods vary depending on whether a person wants to stop their period temporarily or permanently.
- Side effects: Birth control methods can cause a range of side effects that affect people differently.
- Effectiveness: A person may wish to view the statistics on effectiveness before making their choice.
The following are common questions and answers about birth control and stopping periods:
Is it safe to use a birth control pill to stop periods?
Generally, it is safe to use birth control to stop periods. However, there may be some types of birth control that certain individuals should not take. People should always talk with their doctor before taking anything to stop periods.
Learn more about the safety and risks of skipping periods on birth control here.
Are there any side effects to skipping periods on birth control?
There is very limited research into the long-term effects of skipping periods by using birth control. However, alongside the usual side effects that birth control methods can cause, occasional spotting or irregular bleeding may occur.
Learn about the 10 side effects of the birth control pill here.
How can a person stop their period permanently?
Under some circumstances, a doctor may recommend surgery. However, they will only recommend this if a person has specific medical conditions, such as
This surgery will be a final resort if other treatments are not working.
Many types of birth control can stop or delay a person from having a period. Some of these methods may only make the period lighter. A person should always discuss the options with their doctor before using any birth control method to stop periods.