Many women, when they are not actively trying to get pregnant, would be happy to be rid of the monthly cycle. But is it safe to use birth control to stop your periods? There are actually a variety of treatments available to aid in menstrual suppression, which are, for most women, very low risk.
Methods of Menstrual Suppression
There are a variety of ways to stop your period using hormone therapy (birth control). Certain birth control pills will allow you to suppress or diminish your period, as will some IUDs (intrauterine devices) and vaginal birth control rings (such as the NuvaRing and Annovera). There are also patches, shots, and implants that deliver a slow release of hormones to prevent ovulation and menstruation. While most of these methods are very effective, some women will experience breakthrough bleeding at times.
Birth Control Pills
Most birth control pills come in packs of 28, with the last week being a placebo week to allow for your cycle. By skipping that week and starting the next pack, you can prevent your period. Newer birth control pills on the market, such as Amethyst, are FDA approved for continuous use without the placebo week. The disadvantage to pills is that you have to remember to take them every day, and there are risks associated with birth control that are higher in women over the age of 35.
IUDs treated with progestin can be used to treat heavy periods as well as suppress periods. The IUD can remain in place for up to five years. You don’t have to take a daily pill or remember to do anything, but it can take up to six months to fully suppress your period, and for up to a quarter of women, the periods don’t stop – they just get much lighter.
Vaginal Birth Control Rings
Vaginal birth control rings like the NuvaRing can help with menstrual cramps, as well as make your period lighter. Vaginal birth control rings can also be used to safely skip your period as long as you continuously replace it (by inserting a new ring instead of leaving it out during week 4). This allows you to decide when you’d like to have a period again.
Implants are effective as birth control and easy to remember, since the implant can last for up to three years. But for menstrual suppression, they are the least effective, giving this kind of relief to only about a fourth of women who take them.
Patches, like pills, are designed to be replaced every 28 days, but when replaced after the 21st day, can suppress your period. The patch is easier to remember than taking a daily pill, but there is some concern that long-term use of the patch can put you at higher risk for deep vein thrombosis – clots in your legs that can be life-threatening.
Shots are one of the most effective menstrual suppression methods. Some women may still experience some breakthrough bleeding, but most people who use the shots stop having periods completely within a year. Shots are given every 90 days. The biggest risk is bone loss, but once you stop taking the shots, it is reversible.
If you are interested in learning more about menstrual suppression or birth control, get in touch. With specialized care and cutting-edge treatments in obstetrics and gynecology, Huey & Weprin Ob/Gyn offers a wide variety of gynecologic and obstetric services from leaders in Ob/Gyn research development. Call 937.771.5100 or fill out the form on this page to schedule an appointment.