Birth control pills suppress your menstrual cycle and the accompanying production of female hormones from your reproductive system by supplying them in pill form. This hormonal suppression means you have the benefit of determining when your period occurs by altering how you take your birth control pills. This is relatively easily accomplished with a bit of knowledge about the type of birth control pills you’re using and some simple planning -- but check with your healthcare provider first to be sure it's safe for you.
Birth Control Pills and Period Timing
Birth control pills deliver a balanced dose of one or two female hormones. Monthly pill packs contain 21 or 24 active hormone pills. So long as you are taking active pills, you will not have a period. Bleeding begins either when you begin inactive pills, which are often a different color and always the final pills in the pack, or on the days when you do not take any pills. Thus, you can delay your period by continuing to take active hormone pills -- skipping the inactive pills or your off-pill days, and starting instead on a new pill pack.
Planning and Consideration
There is no medical necessity for a monthly period when taking birth control pills. If you delay your period start by beginning a new pill pack early, it is convenient and safe to continue taking the remainder of these pills. Skipping inactive pills or off-pill days might result in spotting. If you regularly use monthly pill packs back to back without discontinuing active pills, consider talking with your doctor about changing your birth control brand to one that designates period bleeding only once every 3 months.
- American Family Physician: Initiating Hormonal Contraception
- Association of Reproductive Health Professionals: Choosing a Birth Control Method
- University of Illinois McKinley Health Center: The Pill
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: U.S. Selected Practice Recommendations for Contraceptive Use, 2013: Adapted From the World Health Organization Selected Practice Recommendations for Contraceptive Use, 2nd Edition