It’s a question we’ve all had in mind before deciding on birth control — does the Pill stop your period? The answer is actually a little bit more complicated than just “yes” or “no”, so we’ve set out this handy page of info to help explain.
Take a look and find out more about your choices for oral contraception, your period, and what you can do to stop it when you need a new routine. You might even find a birth control regime that could be better than your current one!
Does the Pill stop your period?
So, does the Pill stop your period? Not exactly. But the different types do control when you’ll have your period, and some may delay it from coming in the long term if you need them to.
How the Pill works for your period all depends on the type you’re prescribed. Some types simply keep your period regular and in the same place every month, while others might mean you only have a period three to four times a year. Some might even stop it from coming for a year in general!
Finding the right type of contraceptive for you could make all the difference to your menstrual cycle, especially if you have irregular periods or cycles that don’t quite follow the standard “every 21 to 35 days” rule.
What different types of oral contraceptives are available to me?
There are two main types of oral contraceptive pills (shortened to OCPs). The type you’re most likely to be prescribed is the combination pill, and there are several different kinds that you and your doctor might decide on:
- Monophasic pills, which you use in one-month cycles and provide the same level of hormones throughout the month
- Multiphasic pills, which are also used in one-month cycles but provide different levels of hormones throughout the month
- Extended-cycle pills, which you use in 13 week cycles. You’ll take active pills (pills with hormones in them) for the first 12 weeks, then inactive pills (pills without hormones, or “placebo pills”) for the last week of the cycle. Taking these combination contraceptives should mean that you should only be on your period three to four times a year
Combination contraceptive pills come in packs of 21, 24, or 28, depending on the prescription you’ve worked out with your doctor. One pill should be taken every day at the same time to keep it working as it should. Some pack types will come with placebo pills for you to take the week you’re due to start your period, but with others, you’ll simply skip taking any pills for that week.
You can also be prescribed progestogen-only or “mini pills”. These pills only contain progestogen, without any oestrogen. Your doctor might decide that these are the better option for you if:
- You’re breastfeeding
- You’re a smoker
- You’ve got a history of blood clots
- You’re 35 or older
- You simply can’t have oestrogen
There are also two different types of mini pill ‒ the traditional “3-hour” kind, which has to be taken within three hours of the same time each day, and the “12-hour” kind, which must be taken within 12 hours of the same time each day. Missing the timeframe could keep your pill from working as it should, so it’s best to set a time you’re sure to remember!
A pack of mini pills will come with 28 days’ worth of medication in them, and there’s no break in between. Once you’ve finished your first pack all you’ll have to do is get started with the next one, and you can start your first pack at any time in your cycle.
How do all these oral contraceptives work?
A combination contraceptive pill works by stopping you from ovulating. This means that your ovaries won’t release an egg on the days you’re taking the active pills. They also help to thicken the cervical mucus, which makes it difficult for sperm to swim through the cervix and fertilise any egg that does get released. While doing this, they’ll also thin out the lining of your uterus, which makes it nearly impossible for any fertilised egg to become implanted.
Progestogen-only pills have less of a chance of stopping you from ovulating, as their main job for contraception is to thicken your cervical mucus and thin out the lining of your uterus.
Stopping your period while taking the Pill
It is possible to stop your period while on birth control pills simply by leaving out the placebo pills, or by carrying on with a pack if you’re supposed to take a break. However, you shouldn’t try this on purpose without talking to your doctor.
Forgetting dates or accidentally mixing up days is okay, as your health provider should give out information on what to do if this happens. They’re also likely to suggest that you have some backup methods of contraception if you’re sexually active in the meantime ‒ forgetting your pills reduces their effectiveness from 99% to 91%, after all!
Does taking the Pill stop your period straight away?
There isn’t any guaranteed way to stop your period straight away. By starting a prescription of the combined Pill, you can delay it by taking two packs back-to-back. Doing this won’t have any effect on how they work as contraceptives, but you should avoid taking more than two packs in a row unless your doctor says otherwise.
You won’t be able to do any of this if you’re taking progestogen-only pills, but you might be able to switch to the combined pill or another kind of medication if you need to delay your period. The medication a doctor will normally prescribe is called norethisterone, and they should tell you when to take it and how long you’ll need to take it for. Your period should then arrive two to three days after this time has passed.
We’d always suggest speaking to your doctor or health provider before trying to delay your period; they’ll be able to provide you with the best advice for your own individual needs.
How long after stopping the Pill does your period start?
If you’re taking any of the types of Pill that leave a week pill-free, or that have a week’s worth of placebo pills, you should expect your period to start within those seven days.
If you’re no longer planning on taking the Pill, you may find that it’ll take a few weeks after stopping birth control for your periods to come back. This all depends on your own normal cycle, though. Your general health, weight, stress levels, and medical conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can all play a part in how long it will actually take.
You might also notice that your periods are irregular when you first choose to stop taking the Pill. You’ll need to let your body settle into the new routine for a while, so give it around three months for it to establish itself.
What benefits are there to taking the Pill?
The main benefit to taking the combined Pill is that you’ll be in control of your cycle, and you can decide whether or not to stop it if you decide you’d like to get pregnant. It’s also a more effective option than most other types of birth control.
Combination contraceptives can even help with a whole range of other issues, including:
- Bone thinning
- Certain types of cancer
- Heavy periods
- Premenstrual syndrome or premenstrual tension (PMS or PMT)
- Risks linked to ectopic pregnancies
The mini pill’s main benefits are that they don’t interrupt sex, you can use them while breastfeeding, you can take them at any age, and they’re perfect if you can’t have oestrogen for any reason.
Oestrogen is present in combination contraceptive pills, the contraceptive patch, and the vaginal ring, so progestogen-only pills can make an ideal alternative.
Are there any disadvantages to taking the Pill?
While there are a lot of good things about taking the combined Pill, you can also expect a few downsides that you’ll need to take into consideration. These include:
- They don’t protect against STIs; you’ll need to use a condom to prevent these
- They need to be taken every day at the same time to stay effective
- They’re not recommended for everyone; you’ll need to speak to your doctor about whether or not they’re just right for you
There are also a few disadvantages to taking progestogen-only pills:
- They don’t protect against STIs either
- You’ll need to take them around the same time every day (even more strictly than you would with combined contraceptives)
- You might not have regular periods while on them; they could be lighter, more frequent, or even stop altogether. You might also get spotting between periods
- They can be made less effective by some medicines and antibiotics
Can taking the Pill have side effects?
It’s possible that you may get some slight side effects when taking OCPs, but these are usually minor and can disappear after two to three months of taking them. A few of us out there probably even prefer the side effects to our periods ‒ the pros can definitely outweigh the cons, in a lot of cases!
Some common side effects of taking the combined Pill include:
- A decreased libido
- Bloating (some people think the Pill makes you gain weight, but medical professionals say there’s little evidence to back up this claim)
- Breast tenderness
- Headaches or migraines
- Increases in blood pressure
- Mood changes
- Spotting or irregular menstrual bleeding
Side effects are generally rare when you decide to go on the mini pill, but we’ve listed the most common ones for you, just in case:
- Breast tenderness or enlargement
- Cysts forming on your ovaries (these are usually harmless and should go away without treatment)
- Decreased libido
- Increased libido
- Headaches or migraines
- Mood changes
- Nausea or vomiting
Get yourself ready for those delicate days
We know how stressful it can be when you’re on your period, or even just in the time building up to it! So, if your contraceptive pills are counting down towards the start of your next cycle, why not make sure you’re ready to see it out in a soft, super-comfy style?
FLUX Undies will be happy to set you up with a few sets of totally absorbent period pants, guaranteeing you a clean and dry month, every month! Every pair can hold several tampons’ worth of flow, too, so you won’t have to worry about leaking or doing anything other than going about your day. Just put them in the wash when you’re done with a pair and you’ll have them fresh and ready for next time around!
You’ll even get 10% off your first order when you buy our period underwear, so go on ‒ make the switch and get ready to change how you have your periods for good!