Prescription Options

The Safety of Skipping Periods

For some women, having a period every month is little more than an inconvenience. For others, it may indicate a week of pain and discomfort. Between 20 percent and 40 percent of women have harsh periods. Treating symptoms such as headaches, painful cramping, heavy bleeding, and PMS with medication and heating pads is 1 way to manage them. Another way is to prevent them completely by taking birth control pills.

How Oral Contraceptives Function

When birth control pills were introduced in the 1950sthey had been marketed in bundles of 30 pills–21 of these contained hormones which put a stop to the organic buildup of blood and tissue in the uterine lining in preparation for thought. Another seven were placebos that allowed to get a yearlong period. This 21/7 regimen was invented because it most closely mimicked a natural menstrual cycle.

By having a time once a month women are less inclined to worry that birth control pills would interfere with their”regular” intervals and consequently are more likely to use them. Possessing a monthly period also ensured girls the birth control pill was doing its job–preventing pregnancy. Bear in mind, there weren’t any home pregnancy tests back then.

The bleeding you experience while on birth control pills is not menstrual bleeding, which is the shedding of the blood and tissue that accumulates in the uterine lining in preparation for pregnancy.

If after ovulation there is no fertilized egg to embed from the uterus, the thickened lining is sloughed off. The false period that happens while on oral contraceptives is called withdrawal bleeding. The blood will not come from the uterus, however since the liner has remained thin, the bleeding is mild.

The Security of Persistent Contraceptives

There is no danger in preventing the thickening of the uterine lining by choosing 21/7 birth control pills. Nor is there any danger in taking hormones for more than 21 days in order to put off withdrawal symptoms. A 2004 study even found that removing withdrawal bleeding through extended or continuous use of oral contraceptives might have lifestyle or health advantages.

Actually, for decades physicians have been prescribing birth control pills to control the daily cycles of women for a variety of motives: to help manage menstrual-related health disorders or severe period-related symptoms; to make it a lot easier to handle physically demanding jobs; and even to be certain a woman won’t have her period while on vacation or during her honeymoon. 

Is there a limit to just how long a girl can go without a period? At least 84 days, based on research in women under 40. One study found that when taken daily for 84 days followed by seven days of placebo–that lowers the number of intervals each year by 13 to four–extended cycle pills had been as effective in preventing pregnancy and just as safe as the normal 21/7 regimen. Another study looking at a specific extended-cycle birth control pill, Seasonale (ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel), found that the negative side effects of this medication are typical of birth control pills, with the exclusion of breakthrough bleeding, which was common with Seasonale.

If you’ve got monthly intervals that cause symptoms so intense you are not able to take part in activities you like, an extended-cycle birth control pill may be a simple and secure way to cope with them. Speak with your gynecologist or regular practitioner. You might be just one daily tablet away from removing painful, tumultuous periods.

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