Does Birth Control Regulate Your Period?

Learn About Birth Control's Non-Contraceptive Uses

Birth Control Patch
Would You Use the Patch?. Ruth Jenkinson/Getty Images

The question, "Does birth control regulate your period?" brings an important women's issue into focus. Many women have irregular periods: Some become anxious about having long menstrual cycles. Still others are concerned about not knowing when their periods will start.

Chances are, you're aware that the Pill is one of the most widely used birth control methods. Here's where you can learn more about some of its non-contraceptive benefits.

 

For example, menstrual cycles can become unpredictable due to infrequent, irregular, or nonexistent ovulation.  Women choose the Pill, as well as other forms of hormonal contraception, due to its high degree of effectiveness and ease of use. However, combination hormonal contraceptives, like the Pill, can also be used to help you regulate your monthly cycle or skip periods altogether. 

Given that every woman may have different reactions to specific birth control methods, the information provided here is intended as a general overview. The main reason to use the Pill is for contraception (to prevent an unintended pregnancy). However, possible non-contraceptive benefits may be considered when you and your doctor are deciding which of the available birth control methods is right for you.

Birth Control Methods to Consider

The following is a list of specific prescription birth control methods that have been shown to be effective in providing some help for regulating irregular periods:

  • Combination Pills. These birth control pills can help control menstrual cycles and irregular periods. Using combination pills can lead to a predictable 28-day cycle.
  • Extended-Cycle Pills. Birth control pills such as Seasonique, Amethyst, and Lybrel can help to delay (or completely stop) monthly bleeding. However, spotting may occur during the first few months of using these extended cycle pills.
  • Combination Hormonal Contraceptives. These birth control methods contain a synthetic estrogen and progestin. In addition to combination pills, the NuvaRing and "the Patch" fall into this category of contraceptives.

    Note: The Ortho Evra patch has been discontinued in the U.S. A generic form, Xulane, is available.

    Combination birth control can also help women skip their periods when they're concerned about the inconvenience of menstrual bleeding during travel or important life events.
  • Progestin-Only Pills. Progestin-only pills may also help some women who have irregular periods. However, you should know that these birth control pills are thought to prevent ovulation in only about 50% of the women who use them. The other 50% of women using this method will continue to ovulate and have periods on a regular basis. 
  • Other Progestin-Only Methods. Progestin-only contraceptives such as Depo-Provera, Mirena, Skyla, and Nexplanon may be prescribed for women who want to stop getting their periods. (These methods are also helpful alternatives for women who can't use estrogen-based contraceptives.) They may initially cause unscheduled spotting or breakthrough bleeding. However, over time, a substantial number of women using these methods do stop getting their monthly periods, so the unscheduled bleeding stops as well. Mirena, Nexplanon, and Depo-Provera may be good solutions for long-term menstrual cycle suppression, provided that the women taking them do not expect immediate relief from their irregular periods. 

    Sources:

    Archer DF, Jensen JT, Johnson JV, et al. "Evaluation of a continuous regimen of levonorgestrel/ethinyl estradiol: Phase 3 study results." Contraception. 2006;74:439-445. 

    Kim-Bjorklund T, Landgren BM, Hamberger L. "Is the contraceptive effect of 300 micrograms of norethisterone mainly peripheral or central?" Contraception. 1992;45:57-66. 

    Steinauer J, Autry AM. "Extended cycle combined hormonal contraception." Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2007;34:43-55. 

    Stewart FH, Kaunitz AM, Laguardia KD, et al. "Extended use of transdermal norelgestromin/ethinyl estradiol: A randomized trial." Obstet Gynecol. 2005;1051389-96. 

    Sulak PJ, Smith V, Coffee A, Witt I, et al. "Frequency and management of breakthrough bleeding with continuous use of the transvaginal contraceptive ring: A randomized controlled trial." Obstet Gynecol. 2008;112:563-571. 

    Continue Reading