Skipping your period using birth control has been a hot topic recently. Our founder, Dr. Sophia Yen and Pandia Health have been preaching about #PeriodsOptional for some time now, and we are thrilled to see it start to take off. There are so many benefits of skipping your period such as getting rid of period pain, living your life stress free, and saving money on pricey period products! We’re passionate about this topic because we believe you should be able to keep doing what you want when you want with no period pain. Stop sucking it up!
How skipping your period works
The way the pill, patch, ring works is that they provide 3 weeks of hormones, and the 4th week you can not take pills, not wear the patch, not use the ring. But that week off is arbitrary. You can do it every 4 weeks, every 3 months, every 6 months, or never.
Contrary to popular belief, when taking hormonal birth control, you no longer are having a traditional period. Instead, the monthly bleed you experience when you’re on the placebo week is actually ‘withdrawal bleed.’ It’s lighter because when you are on hormonal birth control, your uterus doesn’t build up the lining as much as if it were preparing to grow an embryo for 9 months. Our founder Dr. Sophia Yen says “without hormones your uterus lining grows to a level 10 to prepare to grow an embryo. However, with birth control it only grows to a level of 1 because it doesn’t need to grow something for 9 months.” This bleed is caused by the drop in hormones, causing a shedding of the uterine lining. It is not medically necessary to experience this while taking hormonal birth control. You can safely skip this monthly withdrawal bleed by skipping your placebo week all together! It really is as simple as that. (However, on the patch you MUST have a withdrawal bleed every 12 weeks otherwise the estrogen builds up and you risk blood clots and death!)
Birth control pills
Skipping your period when taking the pill is super simple. After you finish the three rows of active pills, skip the row of placebo pills and move on to your next pack. Typically, the last row contains sugar or iron pills, which are a different color than the hormone pills. If you are going to skip your period, our expert doctors recommend using the monophasic vs. triphasic pill simply because the monophasic pill delivers a consistent level of hormones whereas the triphasic pill has three levels of hormones, which may make it more complicated for you and your body. Our doctors favor monophasic pills, like Sprintec or Estarylla, because there is no need for hormones to go up and down when they can be steady.
There is one type of pill that you cannot use to skip your period, progesterone only pills (POPs), because there is no placebo week. Some people find that they have a much lighter period or no period at all while taking POPs, some others do not notice any difference and continue to bleed monthly.
The birth control ring is a small, flexible ring that you place inside the vaginal canal to release hormones that prevent pregnancy. It is worn for three to five weeks at a time and is typically followed by a seven-day break, when a withdrawal bleed occurs. In order to avoid this bleed, simply skip the break and put in your new ring immediately after you finish your last one. To make it easy on yourself, replace the ring monthly –if you started on the 7th, always replace your ring on the 7th! Nuvaring is a ring that you need to replace monthly but you can also get Annovera that will last a full year.
The patch, such as Twirla, is a sticker containing hormones that is placed on the skin (i.e. your outer arm, back, stomach, or butt). It is worn for seven days and swapped out each week, for 3 weeks. The fourth week is patch free, which causes a withdrawal bleed. If you do not want to bleed, skip the week off and put on a new patch each week. It is important to note, however, that you should not skip your period for more than 12 weeks in a row while on the patch, because wearing the patch for more than 12 weeks in a row increases your risk of developing blood clots and death. You must come off the patch for 7 days to let the hormones wash out.
How to skip your period on birth control
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Myths about skipping your period
Those with uteri have long been trained to believe that skipping your period is not safe. Skipping/missing your period WITHOUT the use of birth control is an indication of another health issue (pregnancy thyroid, eating disorder, brain tumor), and you should talk to a doctor about that. However, skipping your period using birth control is completely safe, and actually lowers your risk of endometrial, colorectal, and ovarian cancer. There is also a myth that using birth control long term, back to back, will cause infertility. There is no scientific evidence to suggest infertility is linked to prolonged birth control use. Our founder Dr. Sophia Yen says, “Birth control makes you infertile WHILE YOU ARE ON IT. That’s why you’re taking it, to prevent pregnancy. However the hormones are mostly out of your body within 3 days, that’s why you have the withdrawal bleed. But to be completely gone, it would be 7 days or 10 days max.”
Benefits and side effects of skipping your period
There are plenty of benefits of skipping your period, the first one being: no period!! This allows you to live more freely without the stress of planning for a period. You do not need to spend money on period products or ruined clothes or ruined bed sheets! You can wear white as you please (swimsuit, summer shorts, soccer, tennis skirt) and attend more social gatherings that may have previously been bogged down with a period. The #1 cause of those with uteri under the age of 25 years old missing work and school is from painful and/or heavy periods. Skipping your period is a way to reclaim your power and take your life into your own hands. You don’t need to suffer from painful periods, you have the option to live with less pain! You can decide how often and when you have a withdrawal bleed vs. random blood every 4 wks.
The main side effect of skipping your period is breakthrough bleeding. When you first start on your #PeriodsOptional journey, you can usually go up to 3 months without your period, and then you might experience breakthrough bleeding. This is normal and NOT a cause for alarm. Simply stop taking your hormonal birth control for 4 days (only if you already have taken 21 days consecutively of active pills ) and on the 5th day start taking your active birth control pills, patch, or ring again, whether or not you are bleeding. This will clean out the uterus and act as a ‘reset’ for your uterus and you should be able to skip your period for longer next time.
The main takeaway from all of this is that you do have the power to safely bleed on your own terms. You do not have to be a prisoner to your period, and you can live your life more comfortably with the help of hormonal birth control. All you need is the proper prescription and expert doctors to help you navigate your #PeriodsOptional journey. It is important to always ask questions to your doctor if you have any. At Pandia Health if you choose our telemedicine service, you have access to our expert doctors for 365 days to ask any questions you need about birth control.They will find the best medication to match your personal needs and medical history and we will provide FREE delivery for your refills. So you don’t have to worry about running out of birth control or going to the pharmacy each month. We are here to support you on your journey and help you live your best life – period free! Ready to start? Sign up with us today!