In Western countries, girls are taught to believe that having a regular period is good, as it shows their reproductive system is healthy and ready for when they want to have babies. More than that, these girls grow up believing that an absent period is necessarily a sign of pregnancy or anomaly. These beliefs, however, may be wrong in some cases, particularly for women who take hormonal birth control.
This is what really happens to women who are using hormonal birth control, according to specialists: the birth control pill packs usually contain 4 weeks’ worth of pills, of which ones for the first 3 weeks are actual hormonal pills and ones of the last week are placebo pills made up of sugar. When women menstruate - or experience some kind of vaginal bleeding - on this fourth week, the phenomenon is caused not by their actual menstrual cycle but rather the withdrawal from the hormones.
What this means is that the periods of women who are taking birth control aren’t in fact related to their ability to get pregnant or the health of their reproductive system.
Keeping this in mind, it becomes quite easy to understand why it is completely safe to delay or skip periods, as doing so will likely not have any adverse effects on a woman’s body. In fact, it will actually allow these women to avoid the awkward, inconvenient and uncomfortable symptoms associated with PMS.
So how can a woman take control of their menstrual cycles and skip periods? The answer is in fact quite simple: they skip the placebo week pills in their packs and take instead the real pills continuously.
Alternatively, if taking the pill continuously is too expensive or inconvenient, women can also opt for extended cycle birth control, which lasts for 90 days and allows them to reduce the frequency of their periods to as few as four times a year.
The efficacy of these extended pills does vary, so women may experience spotting along with some other symptoms, but some brands have actually been able to live up to their claims, allowing women to be essentially free of their periods for most of the year.
Controlling their periods isn’t a luxury only women who take birth control pills can afford, though. For women who wear a contraceptive patch, the process is exactly the same, as they can replace the patch with a new one by the end of the third week.
And it’s even easier for IUD wearers, as the progesterone released by the device controls the shedding from their uterus. This means their periods will be lighter in the course of the five years they wear an IUD and, in some cases, they may even become period-free during that time.