Different birth control pills have different effects on your period. With some pills, you’ll have a period every moth. Others allow you to have a period every four months, while some contraceptives delay your period for a year. What causes period changes is the amount of hormones in the pills, which can also cause break-through bleeding — bleeding mid-month while still on your “active” pills. Other types of contraceptives that deliver hormones, like patches and shots, can also have period-altering side effects.
How It Works
When you’re on your natural menstrual cycle, your hormone levels are dipping and rising all the time in a bunch of what we can call mini cycles. The main players involved are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
The presence in varying levels of these three hormones in your body trigger different parts of your cycle. Hormonal birth control changes the levels of these hormones in your body by introducing synthetic hormones. Some oral contraceptives have a mix of estrogen and progestin (the name for the synthetic progesterone look-alike), and others have just progestin.
Since these hormones are the key orchestrators of your menstrual cycle, it makes sense that your menstruation and ovulation would be different as a result of taking hormonal birth control.
Benefits of delaying your period
Delaying your period can treat or prevent various menstrual symptoms. It might be worth considering if you have:
1. A physical or mental disability that makes it difficult to use sanitary napkins or tampons
2. A condition worsened by menstruation, such as endometriosis, anemia, asthma, migraines or epilepsy
3. Breast tenderness, bloating or mood swings in the seven to 10 days before your period
4. Headaches or other menstrual symptoms during the week you take inactive birth control pills
5. Heavy, prolonged, frequent or painful periods
Is It Safe?
Is it safe to turn off your cycle for so long? Many doctors say yes. In fact, oral contraceptives were originally designed as a continuous-hormone mode.
The bleeding that occurs while you take the inactive pills isn’t the same as a regular period. Nor is the bleeding necessary for health. This is good news if you take birth control pills and want more control over your menstrual cycle, either for personal or medical reasons. So far, the most common drawback to continuous birth control is that some women have unpredictable spates of breakthrough bleeding.
If your doctor says it’s OK for you to take birth control pills, it’s probably safe to use them to delay your period. Not all doctors think it’s a good idea to delay menstruation, however.