While having your period is a natural part of life, let's face it — sometimes periods are annoying AF. If you have particularly heavy, painful, or uncomfortable periods, it might even feel like your monthly flow is sabotaging your life. But, is it safe to skip your period? While studies haven't been done on whether continually skipping your period is safe, medical studies have reported no significant negative health effects when you skip your period using the pill, according to Nicole Telfer, naturopathic doctor and researcher at Clue, a science-based, menstrual-cycle tracking app. This is also called "menstrual suppression," and there are a lot of reasons you might want to look into it.
If you have a vacation planned, a big event, or anything you'd rather not have your period during, fewer periods means fewer period-related symptoms, like painful periods, known as dysmenorrhea, PMS, or breast tenderness, Telfer explained on Clue's blog. "Also, people who are negatively impacted by monthly blood loss, such as people with anemia or who have bleeding tendency disorders, might also benefit from fewer periods."
Personally, I have dysmenorrhea, PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder), and chronic migraines that can be brought on by hormone changes. For several years I was on a pill designed to let me have a period every four months in order to better manage my symptoms, which can be downright debilitating, especially if I'm under stress. Only having to deal with these symptoms three times a year made a huge difference in my quality of life.
How To Skip Your Period On The Pill
If you're taking an oral contraceptive, skipping a period is pretty simple, though one side effect is that it's more common to have breakthrough bleeding. And, once you stop taking the pill, or return to a regular pill cycle, your period will return. While some people have concerns that skipping a period will cause their body to get 'backed up,' Telfer said that's not the case.
"One thing to keep in mind is that when you’re on the pill you actually don’t have a normal period. In fact, the birth control pill doesn’t allow your endometrium (the lining of your uterus) to grow as thick as it normally would, which is why pill-periods (withdrawal bleeding) are much lighter than a natural period," she explained on the blog. "If you skip a cycle, the continuous exposure of synthetic hormones will maintain your endometrium at the same suppressed level."
Because there are different types of pills, using them to skip a cycle is different. According to Telfer, if you're taking a monophasic birth control pill, once you reach your placebo pills (hormone free pills at the end of your pack — these are normally indicated on the package), then simply skip over those and start your new pack the next day. If you're taking a multiphasic pill, the process is the same, but Telfer noted that it's important to consider that multiphasic pills are not as well studied as monophasic pills, which should be taken into consideration when thinking about skipping a period.
There are also continuous birth control pills, which is what I was taking when I only had my period three times a year. However, because everyone is different, it's a good idea to talk cycle skipping over with your doctor. "Since there are so many differently dosed birth control pills, it’s always best to first discuss the option of skipping your period with your healthcare provider to make sure that it is a safe and healthy option for you," Telfer advised.
If you use a vaginal ring, it's pretty easy to skip a cycle by leaving the ring in for four weeks instead of three, then changing it out with a new one. "You can use the ring to skip your period altogether, which is totally convenient for people who just don’t want to deal with Aunt Flo every month," Planned Parenthood explained on its blog. Additionally, Planned Parenthood noted that you can also skip your period if you're using the birth control patch. Instead of having a patch free week, simply apply a new patch when you remove the old one.
If you're not on any kind of birth control, you can still delay your period by taking a progestogen hormone medication called norethisterone, which you can get from your doctor. "You start three days before a period is due. It can be continued until you want to have a period," Dr. Mary Hardy explained on the website Patient Info. "Your period will then normally begin two-three days after stopping it. It can be taken for up to three-four weeks if necessary. This is only for use on an occasional basis for special events, rather than something to be taken regularly." Norethisterone is not a contraceptive, so it should be used along with a physical birth control to prevent unintended pregnancy.
While the Mayo Clinic reported that skipping your period is safe for most women, one drawback is that by not getting your monthly cycle it can be more difficult to tell if you're pregnant. "If you have morning sickness, breast tenderness or unusual fatigue, take a home pregnancy test or consult your doctor." Other symptoms associated with your period can be signify other health issues, so don't skip your period without being sure your reproductive health is currently on the up-and-up. Otherwise, feel free to enjoy a flow-free month from time to time.