Does the Pill Stop Your Period?

Dr Kathryn Basford

Medically reviewed by

Dr Kathryn Basford

Last reviewed: 19 Dec 2018

How using the pill will affect your periods

Woman crossing a bridge looking up information on the pill and periods on her phone

The pill is a contraceptive method used to avoid pregnancy, though when taking it, you may also notice changes to your period and PMS symptoms.

If you’re looking to stop or delay your period on purpose, the pill can do this. But if you don’t need contraception, or if you can’t use the pill, some other period delay medications could be prescribed to help with this.

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Will the pill stop me having periods?

Whether your period will stop depends on your natural hormone levels, and on the type of pill you take:

  • The combined pill is taken for 21 days before having a 7-day break. There will normally be a period-like bleed during this break – this is called a ‘withdrawal bleed’. Some people skip or stop having periods on this medication.
  • The mini-pill is taken every day and generally stops periods. Light bleeding, known as ‘spotting’, may happen when taking the mini-pill. Some people do get heavier or irregular, longer periods when taking the mini-pill

If you want to miss a period on the combined pill, you can start the next packet straight away without a break. Talk to your doctor if you plan to do this more than twice in a row.

Will the pill make my periods late?

On the combined pill you bleed in the fourth week of each cycle, which is when you’re taking a break from taking the pill each day. This may shorten or extend your cycle, affecting the time and length of your period.

You can start taking the pill at any time in your cycle. The time of the month you start will affect when you get your next period and how long until you’re protected from pregnancy.

As your body adjusts to the pill, your periods may take a while to become regular, and they could come late. If this doesn’t go back to normal again after several months, see your doctor.

Delayed or missed periods aren’t always due to the pill or being pregnant. A lot of things can affect your periods, including:

  • Weight loss
  • Stress
  • Over exercise
  • Diet

Amenorrhoea is a term for when your periods stop when they’re not supposed to. For example, this could be when you’re not using contraception, and you’re also not pregnant.

The pill is 99% effective against pregnancy when taken perfectly, so there is always the risk of pregnancy. If you’re regularly missing periods on the combined pill, it’s worth taking a pregnancy test or seeing your doctor, just in case.

What other contraception stop periods?

  • The hormonal coil (IUD) releases the same hormones as the pill. It may take several months to stop your period completely
  • 50% of people using the contraceptive injection stop having periods. They may experience irregular periods or spotting as well

Your period should return after stopping any of these forms of contraception.

To stop periods completely, some operations either remove the uterus or damage its lining, which can be used as a permanent solution. This is known as female sterilisation and also stops you from being able to get pregnant.

Can you get the pill just for stopping your periods?

At ZAVA, we only prescribe the pill for use as a contraceptive. It’s not available to be used as a period delay. There are other medications that can be prescribed for delaying your period if you’re not on the pill.

Does the pill stop PMS?

The combined pill

The combined pill has the biggest effect in improving symptoms of PMS. This is because it contains oestrogen which isn’t in the mini pill. Combined pills with a higher amount of oestrogen in them have even stronger effects on PMS, but they also have a higher risk of side effects.

Certain hormone changes during your cycle usually cause premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Because the pill controls hormones that have a role in PMS, over time, it can also begin to affect symptoms of PMS. After a few months, you may notice:

  • PMS-related depression and anxiety could be reduced
  • Your mood could become more stable
  • Acne could be improved
  • Cramps could become less painful or uncomfortable
  • Your period itself could become lighter, shorter, and more regular

If you find your PMS symptoms get worse on the combined pill, be sure to talk to your doctor.

The mini-pill

The mini-pill only contains progesterone, making PMS symptoms worse, so it shouldn’t be used to control PMS.

Your GP may prescribe the combined pill for bad PMS. However, the pill is only available from ZAVA for use as a contraceptive.

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Medically reviewed by:
Dr Kathryn Basford

Dr Kathryn Basford is an IMC and GMC registered GP who works with our Irish team here at ZAVA. She graduated from the University of Manchester and completed her GP training at Whipps Cross Hospital in London.

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Last reviewed: 19 Dec 2018

Contraceptive pills are a reliable way of reducing your risk of getting pregnant from sex. ZAVA offers most common brands of pill, so you can order your preferred brand by visiting our contraceptive pill service page.

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