Can I skip getting my period for a month?
May 14, 2016 6:57 AM   Subscribe

My husband and I are going on a week-long milestone anniversary trip, and wouldn't you know it, I'm going to get my period that week. For obvious reasons, I'd prefer that not to happen. Can I game my birth control pills so that it doesn't?

I seem to recall reading somewhere that if you're taking birth control pills, it's possible that you can keep from getting your period for one cycle if you just skip the last week of non-hormonal pills and just start taking your next package during the time you'd normally be taking the non-hormonal ones, so that you're basically starting your next package one week early. I'd really like to do that, but I'm not sure if 1) it'll work; and 2) it will have some weird and non-beneficial effect that I'm not thinking of.

Has anyone ever done this, and was it ok? Obviously, I can just get my period that week and it wouldn't be the worst disaster ever, but I'd really rather not, because I tend to get pretty heavy periods and even apart from the anniversary stuff, it's a serious PITA to have my period when I'm on vacation and not near home, especially when it's going to be for the whole trip.

Thanks in advance.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Starting your next pack when you would normally start the non-hormonal pills does indeed work, usually with no ill effects (I got worse cramping when I did get my next period, but not sure if related or coincidence). Some women do this consistently for years to avoid periods.

You should call the nurse line at your gyno's office, or your pharmacist, just to be sure it's fine to do with the particular kind of pills you're on, but you should be good.

Also, check with your insurance that this won't be problematic when you need your next refill early.
posted by dayintoday at 7:01 AM on May 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

I did this with my BC during the first few months when I was still adjusting to the side effects (I am on Trisprintec) just to lighten PMS symptoms associated with the drop in hormones during the week before my cycle. It mostly just made my period SHORTER, maybe lighter, but it still occurs. I also haven't consulted with my GP about whether or not this is safe. HOWEVER, I know some BC actually is formulated to do this...whether or not it is safe is another question.
posted by Young Kullervo at 7:03 AM on May 14, 2016

I would skip the placebo pill week on occasion when I wanted to skip my period, but I would still get PMS symptoms the week before and still feel bloated during the week of my should-be period, even if I wasn't on my period. I didn't have any spotting and my next period wouldn't happen until the scheduled time (when I went through the next pack of pills and then started taking the placebo pills). My doctor okay'ed me running the packs together so I felt comfortable doing it on occasion - I would consult with your doctor if possible before doing it as the pills you're using may be different.
posted by gursky at 7:15 AM on May 14, 2016

Some women do this consistently for years to avoid periods.

I do this, with regular old BC (not any kind of specially formulated version), and have for...~10 years now? While in my case it is medically indicated, I know lots of other women whose doctors have okayed this. (Obviously you should check with your own doctor.) IME spotting and PMS symptoms are not uncommon. I take the placebo week maaaaaybe twice a year.

Also, check with your insurance that this won't be problematic when you need your next refill early.

True! Though assuming you're on a generic, the ~$30 to just pay for one Rx might be worth it anyway.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 7:18 AM on May 14, 2016 [5 favorites]

Absolutely OK. My doctor recommended doing just this. Simply skip the placebo week and go into the other pack. I've cut periods down to once each 3 months with full doctor support. Sure beats the alternative!
posted by Meagan at 7:18 AM on May 14, 2016 [4 favorites]

I used to do this all the time (when you're on the pill your period is really more withdrawal bleeding than a "real" period so I usually double up packs so that I was bleeding half as much), for me it worked great.

Make sure your pill is monophasic (same hormonal dose for all 3 weeks of the pack), not triphasic (different doses of hormones each week) or it won't work. If it doesn't agree with your body you'll experience spotting but it should be fine, especially if you're just trying to stave things off for a week. Have fun!
posted by lafemma at 7:18 AM on May 14, 2016 [6 favorites]

You can definitely do this. As others have mentioned, you might have some spotting. If you're sensitive to hormone changes, you may also notice shifts in your emotional state or sex drive, though it's unlikely to be a stronger effect than first starting the Pill.
posted by yarntheory at 7:25 AM on May 14, 2016

Oh yes indeed!

I did it all the time. No problems at all. Ortho-Novum 1/35.

There's a pill called Seasonale that has you going for three months before getting a period.

In fact, they were designed originally to stop periods entirely, but some wise man thought we women would freak out without our periods so they added the period in for us. How kind.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:26 AM on May 14, 2016 [4 favorites]

You can also get a prescription for norethisterone to put your period off for about a week. I've taken it for exactly this reason, when I wasn't on birth control pills and had a big, special holiday that was due to coincide with my period. My period was a bit heavier than usual when it arrived, but it was worth it.
posted by penguin pie at 7:26 AM on May 14, 2016

Just to chime in, I am on the combined pill as well. My doctor told me (without prompting) that it was definitely fine to take packs back to back (My BC course is 21 days taking the pill and another 7 days of no pill)

Personally though, I have found that when I take pill packs back-to-back, spotting occurs. Very annoying as I end up staining my underwear or having to wear liners every day.

Nowadays, I do 21 days on the pill, 5 days off (to allow for some withdrawal bleeding), and then 21 days on the next pack.
posted by moiraine at 7:33 AM on May 14, 2016

After checking with my doctor and getting her OK, I started doing this all the time years ago for the very same reasons. Why be bothered with a period when you want to enjoy your summer/ are on vacation/ special occasion, etc. Its great and I've experienced no obvious side effects, not even spotting.
posted by JennyJupiter at 7:52 AM on May 14, 2016

I agree that if your pills are monophasic, you are all set.

If your pills are triphasic (Ortho-Tricyclen is a common one--you should be able to to google and find this out), you can still do it, you'll just need to play around with the timing of 2 packs: take the first week of each pack, then take the second week of each pack, then take the third week of each pack, then have a period.

Obviously, checking with your doctor/on call nurse first is also a good idea.
posted by hydropsyche at 8:02 AM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Honestly, if your pills are triphasic, just don't. It can mean that you still end up with cramping and some bleeding, and when I tried a few times it was almost as annoying as getting my period because it was so unpredictable. I was also getting PMS symptoms and breakouts despite "skipping" my period, as the hormone dose still dropped.

But on a monophasic it really is just "skipping a period", there's little to no sign of hormonal activity and it's really convenient. Monophasics are also a bit better overall, in my opinion. It's really nice to be able to skip a period on an important week.
posted by InkDrinker at 8:09 AM on May 14, 2016

It works fine but as others have said, spotting is an issue, and something I haven't seen mentioned yet is that I find I need to be extra careful about taking the pills at the exact same time each day, otherwise I do risk getting period-like bleeding. No accidental skipping, taking some at night, etc.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:11 AM on May 14, 2016

If your vacation isn't for several months you can skip the placebo week now (rather than on your vacation) in order to shift your period by a week. This allows for any spotting/PMS to happen now rather than when you are on vacation. If that still overlaps your period with part of your vacation you can skip the placebo week two months in a row to shift it another week.
posted by Mitheral at 8:25 AM on May 14, 2016 [10 favorites]

I've done back to back; I've also just added a week of active pills at the end of a pack for three months running (and that worked so well I started doing that full time). I found adding just an extra week reduced the likelihood of spotting or breakthrough bleeding.
posted by devinemissk at 9:01 AM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

I did this once when I went on a trip to Guatemala which included trips to organic farms, horseback riding, and hiking in the cloud forest. My gyno's response to my question of whether this was medically acceptable was, "Oh hell yes, skip that period, no worries."

I didn't have any spotting and no PMS symptoms that I noticed but I was a bit preoccupied at the time! It worked great.
posted by chainsofreedom at 9:28 AM on May 14, 2016

When's the trip? If it's in a few months I'd start this now--in my experience, the first time, you might have breakthrough bleeding which can range from light spotting to basically a full period.
posted by kapers at 11:01 AM on May 14, 2016

I did this to prevent getting my period on my honeymoon, and it was fine! Though my next period after was unusually heavy and annoying.
posted by Andrhia at 11:19 AM on May 14, 2016

My doctor has recommended this and I've done it. The first time I did it, I had dreadful spotting that wasn't much lighter than my regular period, but the month after was completely period-free.
posted by lovecrafty at 2:16 PM on May 14, 2016

Totally okay to try this. But my body really wants to have a period so any attempts to get around it don't work (continuing bc pill packs, the shot, etc). So keep in mind that it might not work. YMMV
posted by greta simone at 3:57 PM on May 14, 2016

I take an old-school second-gen BC and have doctor blessing to skip the placebo week (my pill pack doesn't even come with placebo pills). Agree with the monophasic hormones check. I can only go about 3 months before I get spotting, but then I just stop taking the pills for a week and then I'm good for another 3 months. YMMV--BC also makes my periods much lighter even when I did them "on schedule" and I've never had any side effects.
posted by serelliya at 7:18 PM on May 14, 2016

I do this a couple times a year to put off my period if something is happening where I want to be period-less on a week I would normally have it (vacation, my wedding, etc.) - of course my "bad days" PMS/period wise are Saturday and Sunday, which is annoying.

I've always just taken an extra week of active pills and then taken the placebos, so I've never "skipped" a period, I'm just putting it off for a week. This works well for me because of the timing of my insurance refills (I'd run out quick if I just flat out skipped the placebos), and my body doesn't seem to mind.

If your trip is in a couple months, do this now to shift your period schedule, and then you'll be back on your normal dosage of pills when the vaca comes and you'll have already dealt with any side effects you might encounter.

(Because of the insurance thing, I refill my packs as soon as my pharmacy will let me, so I usually have a backup pack to use a week of here & there. If you do it this way and keep a backup pack, keep an eye on the expiration date of the pills...most places say they're good for a year or so after the expiration date but this is one area not to screw around! :) FWIW, I take Lutera (Orsythia when CVS wants to give me generic.)
posted by AlisonM at 10:25 AM on May 15, 2016

I'm going to nth doing it now to reschedule. I also tried this but my system does not like being messed with and it let me know it was not happy. Better to be on the safe side and deal with any potential weirdness now.
posted by bleep at 1:27 PM on May 15, 2016

When I was on birth control pills in high school, before I got my IUD, I skipped months all the time. Just don't take the placebo and you're good. I don't know if the livejournal 'vaginapagina' is still active but they had a lot of good resources about this.
posted by Marinara at 3:09 PM on May 15, 2016

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