Here is the good news!
There seems to be no additional risks associated with using the pill to suppress the seven-day break (beyond the health risks already linked to hormonal pills or devices). Nearly 100 percent of female OB/GYNs in a national survey by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) said menstrual suppression was safe for their patients. In fact, it may even be beneficial for reducing the chances of premenstrual mood swings and weight gain.
That being said, it’s still important to mention that there have been no long-term studies examining the safety of continually skipping the period. Sometimes, medical repercussions take a longer time and/or need a larger population sample size to emerge. However, the current consensus is that no blood is built up inside your body when you are on the pill. Thus, bleeding when on the pill serves no purpose other than mimicking the natural cycle and making you comfortable with the pill.
Benefits may include the following
- Taking hormonal contraception for period suppression continuously may relieve pelvic pain, headaches, breast tenderness and bloating that may occur with menstruation.
- Research shows that patients with endometriosis may use continuous hormonal birth control or a levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine device (IUD) to relieve severe menstrual cramps and pelvic pain.
- Fewer periods may also benefit women who are negatively affected by monthly blood loss, such as those with anemia or bleeding disorders.
Risks may include the following
- The risks of suppressing the period appear to be the same risks and side effects that come with using any type of hormonal birth control.
- The main side effect of having long, bleeding-free stretches is an increase in unpredictable breakthrough bleeding (unpredictable mid-cycle bleeding). The good news is that the frequency of breakthrough bleeding may decrease over time.
- Beyond that, there’s the issue of birth control failure. With typical use, hormonal birth control pills prevent 91 percent of pregnancies per year. However, if a woman suppresses menstruation, it’s more difficult to know if her birth control failed and they’re pregnant.
- Long-term contraceptives are recommended only if the doctor prescribed them. However, many long-term birth control methods contain hormones. This can cause problems depending on a woman’s medical history, age and overall health. Doctors may advise some women to avoid using certain types of birth control. If a birth control pill causes side effects, a woman can discuss this with her doctor and change pills until she finds one that works for her.
A lot of doctors (wrongly) believed previously that skipping the break would make it less effective. Skipping the break is associated with breakthrough bleeding, fear and anxiety regarding missing a pregnancy. Theoretically, it is also associated with a higher risk of thromboembolism due to a higher amount of hormones. This may be the reason why many doctors continue to advise taking a break. If a woman chooses to stop taking hormonal birth control, her natural menstrual cycle and fertility will usually return to normal after one month, regardless of how long she skipped her period.
What does birth control do to a woman’s body?
Not all women will experience side effects. Some side effects will go away within several months as the body adapts to certain methods. No birth control method is perfect, and every procedure or method is associated with side effects. Below are a few short- and long-term effects of birth control on the body.
Short-term side effects
- Unusual bleeding between periods, or spotting
- Breast tenderness
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
Long-term side effects
- Heavy or painful periods
- Endometriosis, a painful disorder in which abnormal tissue grows outside the uterus
- Blood pressure fluctuation
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss or weight gain due to hormonal changes
What is the best form of birth control?
What’s “best” among birth control methods differs from woman to woman. What's right for a woman may not be right for every woman. And a person’s needs may also change over time.
- The only 100 percent certain way to avoid pregnancy is abstinence, which is impossible to follow long-term. Abstinence is avoiding penetrative sex or any sexual activities where sperm can get on the vulva or into the vagina.
- Using condoms with an additional type of birth control is considered the most effective way to avoid pregnancy and this also guarantees extra protection. No birth control method is perfect. So using condoms with another type of birth control (such as the implant, intrauterine device (IUD) or a pill) gives backup protection in case either method fails. And condoms seriously lower the chances of getting all kinds of sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia and herpes.
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