How to Stop Your Period With Birth Control

Medically Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on May 28, 2023
4 min read

There are several ways to stop your period -- for weeks, months, or even years -- by using birth control. Doctors call this menstrual suppression. Some methods are more effective than others for a long-term pause. Usually, menstrual suppression is low risk.

There are many reasons why you might want to pause your period. For some, monthly cycles come with heavy bleeding, severe pain, or migraines. Others have medical issues like endometriosis, bleeding disorders, or anemia. For some trans or nonbinary people, having a period can trigger gender dysphoria. Or it just might be a time when it would be more convenient not to menstruate. 

Stopping your period relies on birth control methods that use hormones. These methods include:

  • The pill
  • Certain intrauterine devices (IUDs)
  • Vaginal rings
  • Patches
  • Shots
  • Implants

No method eliminates your period completely. And all carry the potential for breakthrough bleeding, the unpredictable bleeding between your periods.

Pills: Combination birth control pills (COCs) are the most widely used method for pausing your cycle. They have two hormones and typically come in a pack of 28 pills -- 21 days of hormone-containing pills and some placebo, or inactive, pills.

To stop your period, you take the hormone-containing pills for 21 days. Then you throw away the placebo pills and start a new pack, again taking just the hormone-containing pills. Repeat this until you're ready to have your period.

Amethyst is the first birth control pill approved by the FDA for continuous use. It provides a low-dose hormone combination that can be taken for 365 days without placebo pills.

Drawbacks? Remembering to take a daily pill may be tough for some. The risks linked to continuous use of COCs are the same as regular use -- a slight possibility of blood clots and stroke. Chances of those are higher if you smoke, are older than 35, or have high blood pressure.

An IUD: Adding the hormone progestin to an IUD helps treat heavy menstrual bleeding. About half of people who use a hormone-containing IUD stop having periods 6 months after it’s put in. For another 25%, periods happen less often but don’t stop. The hormone-containing IUD can stay in place and work for 3 to 8 years, depending on the brand. The upside to IUDs is you don’t have to remember to do anything daily or monthly. Read about the differences between the birth control pill and an IUD.

Patches and vaginal rings: These work like birth control pills, with 21 days on their dual hormones and 7 days off. The 2-inch patch goes on your abdomen, bottom, back, or upper arm. To pause your period, you’d attach another hormone-containing patch after 21 days. There is some evidence that long-term patch use may put you at greater risk for deep vein clots called VTE (venous thromboembolism). Get more information on the birth control patch.

Vaginal rings are flexible plastic devices that contain the same hormones as combination birth control pills. To stop your period, you would leave the ring in place for 3 weeks, then replace it with a new one. Vaginal rings provide steadier doses of hormones than birth control patches or pills.

A special type of vaginal ring, called Annovera, can be left in for up to a year. If that seems more your style, ask your doctor about it.

It’s important to know that the vaginal ring also slightly raises your chances of toxic shock syndrome. It's more common to have discharge, discomfort, and mild irritation when using the vaginal ring. See the pros and cons of a vaginal ring for birth control.

Shots: Birth control shots are one of the most effective ways to stop your period.

At first, you may have a lot of bleeding. This eventually goes away, and the shots do a good job of stopping your period. Most people -- nearly 75% -- have no periods after a year of use, although breakthrough bleeding is very common.

You get birth control shots every 90 days. Some people may not want or have time to visit the doctor that many times per year. Weight gain is a potential side effect of this method. Potential bone loss is possible too, although it’s reversible once you stop getting the shots. Learn more about how the birth control shot works.

Implants: These consist only of the hormone progestin. A thin rod is placed under the skin on the inside of your upper arm. It lasts for up to 3 years. Like an IUD, there’s nothing to remember to do. Implants ease the bleeding that happens during your period. But they completely stop periods in less than 25% of those who have them. Implants are the least effective method for stopping your cycle. Read more on the birth control implant.

If you want to cut down on the number of periods you have per year,  experts suggest standard birth control pills, patches, or the vaginal ring. To stop your period long-term, birth control shots, long-term pills, and the IUD typically work best. Speak with your doctor about it. You’ll work together to figure out which method is best for you.