Q: How is it not unhealthy that some birth control makes your period stop? That seems like it would be unhealthy to stop your cycle like that.
— Anonymous submission
Great question and one that comes up a lot! But you can rest assured that it is totally safe to not have your period while on birth control — the only time it may be concerning to not have your period is if it’s a sign of some underlying medical issue.
Remember that every woman’s cycle is different. Your period may come every 26 days or it may come every 31 days, which means that your period might not be “every month” per se — there may be some months where you have it twice and some where you don’t have it at all. If you ever notice that your period hasn’t come when you expected it, make sure you talk to your provider about it. However, when you aren’t having periods and you know it’s because of your birth control, it’s considered totally safe.
There are a number of methods of birth control that can cause lighter, shorter periods, or even no period at all. Examples are the hormonal IUD (like the Mirena or Skyla), the implant (Nexplanon) and the shot (Depo-Provera). Every body is different, so the only way to know how your body will respond is to try it.
Birth control pills can also be used in a way where you intentionally skip your period, sometimes called continuous birth control. You can also do this with the birth control ring, but it’s not recommended with the patch.
There are a few reasons it’s OK to go without a period. Some of these methods of birth control work to make lining of the uterus (the endometrium) very thin, so instead of needing to shed the lining every month, there really isn’t anything there — hence: no period.
Also, if you think about it, women often go years without having a period when they are pregnant and then breastfeeding, and birth control pills mimic this same scenario. They basically “fool” your body with hormones so that your body thinks it’s not time to ovulate.
When you think about the fact that our ancestors were either pregnant or breastfeeding for most of their adult life (plus they started their periods later), you realize that young women today have a lot more periods in their life than women have ever had before. So using hormones to skip some cycles is really not a big deal.
And once you get off the birth control, there will be no long-term effect at all on your ability to get pregnant, even if you have gone years without a period. Some women prefer to have their periods monthly, which is also totally fine.
Bottom line: Whatever you choose, it’s totally medically safe — and how great that we get to have the choice.
Corinna R. Michels earned a Masters of Science in nursing at the University of California San Francisco and now works as a nurse practitioner in Yakima, where she lives with her family.