How to Use Birth Control to Delay Your Period

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If you take birth control pills, you generally know exactly when your period will start. Most pills work in a 28-day cycle, with 21 active hormone tablets and 7 placebos (usually sugar pills). Menstruation starts in the fourth week of the cycle when you start taking the placebos. When you want to delay your period for an important event such as a beach vacation or sports competition, changing how you take your birth control pills is the most reliable way to ensure your period doesn’t come.

Things You'll Need

  • 28-day cycle birth control pills
  • Panty liners

Discuss delaying your period with your medical practitioner. It is generally safe to delay your period or stop your period altogether, but don’t take birth control without a doctor’s prescription.

Take your birth control pills as usual for the first three weeks (21 days) of the cycle. These are the hormone pills that prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation.

Start a new pack of birth control pills after the third week. Instead of taking the placebo pills that make you start bleeding, continue with the hormone pills in a new pack. This will delay your period for three weeks.

Keep some panty liners on hand. You won’t have a full period, but some light breakthrough bleeding is possible.

Skip the placebo pills and start a new pack to delay your period for another three weeks.

Tips & Warnings

  • Talk to your doctor about types of birth control used to stop periods altogether. Women with endometriosis or adolescents with very painful or irregular periods may want to use pills to stop their periods or make them lighter or less frequent.
  • No birth control method, including birth control pills, is completely failsafe. If you delay your period, you will have no monthly bleeding to tell you you're not pregnant. See your doctor before starting birth control pills. The pill isn't safe for everyone, including women with high blood pressure, a history of strokes, heart attacks, or blood clotting, or a family history of thrombosis.

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