No-Period Birth Control

Medically Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on May 01, 2008
From the WebMD Archives

Q: I’m a little wary of the new no-period birth control pills on themarket. Are they safe?

A: The FDA approved the first no-period pill (brand name Lybrel) in2007. And, yes, this new pill is safe. It isn’t that different from otherlow-dose birth control pills that use estrogen and progestin to stop ovulation.Instead of taking four to seven days of placebo pills, however, women takeLybrel continuously, with no breaks and no period. Seasonale, anotherextended-use oral contraceptive, limits menstrual cycles to four per year.

The FDA approved Lybrel based on two clinical trials, each lasting one year,of more than 2,400 women ages 18 to 49. The trials showed Lybrel to be a safeand effective contraceptive when used as directed.

Not having to worry about a monthly menstrual period is liberating, butthere are downsides. Side effects of Lybrel include breakthrough bleeding orspotting. Many women also rely on their monthly period -- even when they’re onthe pill -- to ensure they’re not pregnant. Some researchers do question thelong-term safety of how continuous-use hormones may affect the risk of breastand other hormone-fueled cancers. Ask your doctor if the no-period pill isright for you.

Brunilda Nazario, MD, WebMD Medical Editor