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Birth Control Health Center

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Stop Your Periods With Continuous Birth Control

By Lisa Hill
WebMD Feature

Are you tired of the monthly cramps, bloating, and all the other not-so-fun things that come with your period?

Well, there’s a way to stop them -- for months or even years. The answer is in your birth control.

Recommended Related to Birth Control

How Effective Is Depo-Provera for Birth Control?

Depo-Provera is a contraceptive method for women. It’s made of a hormone similar to progesterone. It's a shot that a doctor gives you in the arm or buttocks. Each shot works for up to 12 to 14 weeks, but you must get the injection once every 12 weeks to get its full protection.

Read the How Effective Is Depo-Provera for Birth Control? article > >

Women often ask if it’s OK to stop their periods, says Tara Kumaraswami, MD, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at University of Massachusetts Medical School. They worry that the period is building up inside.

It’s not, Kumaraswami says. If you’re on birth control, it’s fine to not have a period. Talk to your doctor if you’re looking for a way to skip or lighten your periods. She can help you figure out what’s right for you. There are a lot of options. Here are a few.

Mirena IUD

This is a small, T-shaped device made from flexible plastic that releases a hormone called progestin. A doctor puts it into your uterus. It can protect you from pregnancy for up to 5 years. Your period probably won’t come as often for the first 3 to 6 months and may stop altogether.

Mirena works by making mucus in your cervix thicker so sperm can’t get in. It also thins the lining of your uterus and stops sperm from reaching or fertilizing your egg.

Joyce Gottesfeld, MD, an OB/GYN with Kaiser Permanente Colorado, often prescribes it for her patients. She says it’s highly effective, and most of her patients who are on it don’t have their periods.

“It really does kill two birds with one stone,” she says.

The Pill

In most cases, you take pills with hormones for 21 days. Then, for 7 days, you take those that don’t have hormones. For many women, it’s safe to skip the ones without the hormones -- and skip your period.

Newer birth control pills are designed to give you four or fewer periods a year. Brand names include Lybrel, Seasonale, and Seasonique.

There may even be some health benefits to using them to skip your period, especially if it’s heavy. They can help prevent anemia, keep your skin clearer, and lower your risk of ovarian and uterine cancers.

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