Here’s how: If you are on the birth control pill or birth control ring, just skip the sugar pills or ring-free week and you won’t have your period.

For Birth Control Ring (NuvaRing) users, just change your ring every 4 weeks or every month. There’s actually 35 days worth of medicine in the ring and there are only 31 days max to every month. So you’re covered!

For the birth control patch (Xulane, Ortho-Evra [off-market]), you can use a patch each week for up to 12 weeks. On week 13, TAKE a break and have a bleed. Do NOT use the patch for more than 12 weeks in a row, otherwise, the hormones build up and you risk blood clots and DEATH!

You can also skip your periods on the IUD with hormone, implant, and shot, but they are not as reliable. 30-70% of women will stop having periods on those methods and the other 30% will have lighter periods, but not everyone can get to no periods on those methods.

The first time you try, usually you can get to 3 months with no periods and then you get some spotting. If you get spotting and you have used at least 3 weeks of active pills in a row, come off the pills for 5 days (you’ll get a withdrawal bleed during that time) then go back on your pill or ring (a new one) one the 6th day whether or not you are still bleeding. You should be able to get further each time i.e. the 1st time, you get to 3 months with no period, and then the 2nd time – 6 months with no period, then 1 yr, then Voilà, no more periods!

However, some women’s internal hormonal system may be so strong and only allow them to get to 3 months or we may need to go to stronger strength medication to “override your system.” 

 

 

In an article by Malcolm Gladwell, you can read here about how the co-inventor of the Pill created the pill to have a 1 week withdrawal bleed (fake period) because he wanted to help facilitate “the rhythm method” which was acceptable to the Catholic church. However his co-founders knew that “a cycle of any desired length could presumably be produced.”

The article also states that “incessant menstruation” is a modern construct. That women, in our “natural state,” wouldn’t have as many periods as we have in the modern world. In Mali, women only have about 101 periods in their lives. This is because they start having periods later, which means fewer periods per year, and they have more babies and breastfeed longer. Meanwhile in the U.S., we have ~ 350-400 periods in our lifetimes. We have endometrial cancer and ovarian cancer from all that extra building of the lining and shedding of the lining and popping out eggs each month – in Mali, they have none.

So, by having fewer periods, you are decreasing your risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer, decreasing blood loss (which can lead to lower academic performance if you become iron deficient), and using fewer feminine hygiene products (decreasing the burden to landfill).

There is a theoretical increased risk of breast cancer with the increased exposure to estrogen from the birth control pills, so definitely check your breasts for any lumps that don’t go away and report them to your doctor. But some say this risk is association and not causation and the National Cancer Institute cites studies that show the risk goes away after 10 years off the birth control pills

Now that we know that we can skip our monthly bleed, wouldn’t life be better with less bloodshed?

So, if you have finals coming up, a competition, a sports event, vacation… you can SKIP THAT PERIOD. Or in general, are you going to do better on the GRE/MCAT/finals or life, on your period or off your period?

— Dr. Yen

Here’s my TedX talk on #PeriodsOptional.

 

References:

Endometrial Cancer Prevention http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-endometrialcancer-contraceptio-idUSKCN0QP2AH20150820

Ovarian Cancer Risk Reduced by the American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org/cancer/ovariancancer/detailedguide/ovarian-cancer-prevention

Blog posts are not a substitute for professional medical advice. The informational is for general informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor/primary care provider before starting or changing treatment.

small update 11.23.19