How to Use the NuvaRing to Skip Your Period

Suppressing Menstruation in Four Simple Steps

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NuvaRing. BSIP / Getty Images

Do you have menstrual-related symptoms like painful cramps or heavy bleeding that you wish you could avoid every month? If so, it may be reasonable to speak with your doctor about potentially skipping your period.

In order to suppress menstruation, women may use an extended or continuous use of combined oral contraceptive or other combined (estrogen and progestin) hormonal delivery vehicles, like the birth control patch (Ortho Evra) or ring (NuvaRing).

With the NuvaRing, there are four simple steps to skipping your period. Again, it is important that you speak to your doctor before trying this. If you choose to go ahead with it after that discussion, be aware that some women do experience breakthrough bleeding. This unpredictable bleeding and spotting generally get better within one to three months but may take up to a year or even longer for certain women. 

How to Use the NuvaRing to Skip Your Period

First, you will need at least two months of NuvaRings, or six rings in total. It's also important to have access to a calendar or a menstrual-tracking application on your phone to record any bleeding.

Here are the four steps you can use to properly skip your period using NuvaRing:

  1. Determine the month that you want to use NuvaRing to skip your period.
  2. Make sure that you are using your NuvaRing the month before the month that you want to skip your period.
  1. After you have inserted your NuvaRing and left it in place for three weeks, take it out on day 1 of week 4.
  2. Instead of leaving your NuvaRing out during week 4, insert a new NuvaRing immediately after you have taken your old one out. This will keep the hormone levels constant; by keeping your hormone supply steady, you should not have your withdrawal bleed (keep in mind that you may still have some spotting).

    As long as you continuously replace your NuvaRing (by inserting a new ring instead of leaving it out during week 4), you should not have a period.

    Finally, when you want to have your period again, just take out your NuvaRing at the end of week 3 and do not insert a new NuvaRing during week 4. Your monthly withdrawal bleed should return.

    Tips for Using the NuvaRing to Skip Your Period

    Here are some additional tidbits to remember if you are planning on skipping your period using the NuvaRing:

    • In order skip your period with the NuvaRing, you will need to pick up your NuvaRing prescription at least a week early from the pharmacy (since you will need to insert a new NuvaRing during week 4, a week earlier than normal). Some insurance companies or pharmacies may not allow you to do this. Check with your insurance company and local pharmacy ahead of time.
    • Remember to keep track of where you are in your cycle on your calendar because you must insert your new NuvaRing right after you take your old NuvaRing out (after week 3). 

    Is There a Problem With Not Getting My Period?

    You may wonder if skipping your period is actually safe. Rest assured that numerous studies have supported the benefit and safety of extended or continuous use of combined oral contraceptives, as compared to traditional (28-day) contraceptives.

    In addition, according to a study in the Cochrane Database Systematic Review, women taking extended combined oral contraceptives did better in terms of headaches, genital irritation, tiredness, bloating, and menstrual pain. This makes sense too, as you are not getting the hormone fluctuations you would with a traditional 21 days of active pills followed by 7 days of inactive pills (when you get your period).

    Another concern with not having a monthly period is that it would lead to overgrowth of the uterine lining, which could then lead to uterine cancer. The good news, though, is extended-cycle oral contraceptives have not been found to lead to uterine tissue thickening.

    On the flip side, some experts still question whether manipulating your period is really a sensible idea. For example, the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research believes that cycle-stopping contraceptives "medicalize menstruation," and "normalize replacing a biological function with a pharmaceutical product to meet social expectations of menstrual concealment." The Society also suggests that long-term safety data on stopping menstrual cycles needs to be done, especially in teenagers and how it affects the breast. 

    In the end, you have to decide what is right for you, and it's wise to discuss with your doctor how to best approach your menstrual cycle based on your unique symptoms and expectations. 

    A Word From Verywell

    One last thought: You may also find it comforting to know that using the NuvaRing to skip your period does not make it any less effective. But remember, the NuvaRing does not offer you any protection against sexually transmitted infections.

    Given that, sometimes the breakthrough bleeding you experience when skipping your period is not from hormones but from something else, like a sexually transmitted infection—so be sure to get tested, if you have risk factors

    Sources:

    Anderson FD, Feldman R, Reape KZ. Endometrial effects of a 91-day extended-regimen oral contraceptive with low-dose estrogen in place of placebo. Contraception. 2008 Feb;77(2):91-96.

    Dragoman M, Petrie K, Torgal A, Thomas T, Cremers S, Westhoff CL. Contraceptive vaginal ring effectiveness is maintained during 6 weeks of use: a prospective study of normal BMI and obese women. Contraception. 2013 Apr;87(4):432-6.

    Hillard PA. Menstrual suppression: current perspectives. Int J Womens Health. 2014;6:631-37.

    Society for Menstrual Cycle Research. The Menstrual Cycle: A Feminist Lifespan Perspective.

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