Feature Archive

The No-Hassle Pill

Is it safe to use the pill for period prevention?

WebMD Feature

March 6, 2000 (San Francisco) -- Laura DeMarco (not her real name) knew she'd get her period during her honeymoon, so she decided to skip it that month. She's not alone: Many women are deliberately avoiding menstruation by not taking the seven dummy pills at the end of their birth control packs and starting a new pack right away.

Although preventing a period is not widely discussed, some gynecologists have routinely recommended this method to their patients for everything from treating anemia to avoiding menstruation while on vacation. But doctors remain divided over whether to recommend skipping one's period for more than an isolated occasion.

Disagreement Among Doctors

There is a common belief among women that getting their period every month is "natural," according to Kirtly Jones, M.D., spokesperson for the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals and a proponent of the pill-skipping method. A monthly period lets women know they're not pregnant, and it "provided reassurance [when] women weren't convinced the pill would work," she explains. "You don't need a week off. When you take that time off, it's not required medically."

But not all doctors agree that women using oral contraception should stop menstruating. "It's a controversial topic that goes back to when the pill was introduced," says Fred Hawwa, MD, assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Brown University School of Medicine in Providence, R.I. He says that skipping the dummy pills in a birth control pack can be a good idea if your period happens to be on your honeymoon or if you're going on vacation, but he wouldn't recommend practicing it permanently.