Here’s what happens if you skip the placebo pills.
Your period is agitating enough on a regular old day, but some occasions make that monthly visit almost unbearable. Whether this weekend is your beach getaway, a long-awaited pool party, a vacation you’ve been planning for over a year, or even (eek!) your wedding, you might have one question on your mind: “Can I use my birth control to delay my period?”
If you’re using hormonal birth control methods—such as the pill, ring, or patch—yep, you can skip that pesky period. The key is to use the birth control method continuously, according to ob/gyn and maternal fetal medicine specialist Kecia Gaither, MD.
This is a considered safe practice. The “break week” is specifically designed to give you that period since some women find it comforting (it’s an easy answer to that whole “Am I pregnant?” puzzle). On the other hand, if you feel comfortable skipping your period altogether, doctors have generally found no health risks in doing so. Skip away!
If you’re on the pill, skip the placebo pills (the different-colored ones) and start a new pack. If you use a ring or patch, skip the “break week” and insert the new ring or apply the new patch right away.
If you use long-term methods like the IUD or implant, you don’t really have control over when your period comes—although it’s likely your period has slowed down or stopped altogether anyway.
Before you get too bold and pack your favorite pair of white pants, you should be prepared and anticipate potential spotting during this week. Hey, nothing a pantiliner can’t fix!
Dr. Gaither, an ob-gyn and maternal fetal medicine specialist, is director of perinatal services at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center, a member of NYC Health + Hospitals System in Bronx, New York.
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I'm going on vacation and I'm about to
get my period, what can I do to delay it?
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No one likes having their
period on vacation, or
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during a big event like a wedding.
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If you take birth control pills,
or use the birth control ring,
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you can safely skip your period by
using your birth control continuously.
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If you're on the pill, you can skip
the inactive week of pills, and
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just start a new pack.
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If you use the ring, you can leave
it in for your usual three weeks.
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Instead of removing it for your break
week, just replace it with another ring.
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If you use the patch,
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apply a new patch after the third
week instead of skipping the week.
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Just a word of warning,
even though you won't get your period,
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you might still get some
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So pack some pantyliners to be safe.
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Ask the experts. Washington, DC: Planned Parenthood. (Accessed on January 1, 2021 at https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/teens/ask-experts/i-was-reading-the-newspaper-and-they-said-it-was-safe-to-take-all-of-your-hormonal-pills-and-skip-the-non-ones-i-have-been-doing-that-for-6-months-is-this-considered-safe-i-havent-had-my-period and https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/teens/ask-experts/what-happens-if-you-wear-a-patch-on-your-off-week)Combined hormonal birth control: Pill, patch, and ring. Washington, DC: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2014. (Accessed on January 1, 2021 at https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Combined-Hormonal-Birth-Control-Pill-Patch-and-Ring.)