Is there a way to delay the menstrual cycle for a life event?

Dr. Kevin W. Windom, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

There are numerous birth control pill options that you can take and have only 4 menstrual cycles per year as well as there are some birth control pills that you can take continuously and never have a menstrual cycle. In some medical conditions such as menstrual migraines, endometriosis, or severe pelvic pain with your menstrual cycles, it is advantages to not have a period. I do caution my patients that if they are not having menstrual cycles and they are not on birth control pills that this can be a concern and a medical problem, but if they are on birth control pills and not having a period, this is fine.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

On average, women today have 400 menstrual cycles in their lifetimes. You can cut down the number of cycles per year by using birth control pills. Several are available that cycle only 4 times or even once a year.

In this video, Dr. Oz debunks common myths about contraception such as the pill and IUDs.

Patricia Geraghty, NP
Women's Health

Menstrual bleeding is triggered by a drop in the level of the female hormones progesterone and estrogen. These are the same hormones that are contained in hormonal contraception such as birth control pills or vaginal rings. Women who use these methods can delay menstrual bleeding for a life event by continuing to take hormone containing pills instead of the hormone-free or placebo pills found at the end of each package. A vaginal ring user can insert a new ring immediately after removing her current ring at the planned time. Both of these actions, called extended cycles,  keep a steady level of hormones, preventing the trigger for bleeding.

Extended cycles are available in 91-pill packages. Use of other pills or the vaginal ring to do this is not approved by the FDA, but has been widely studied in medical trials as safe and effective. Most studies had women take three or four packages of hormone containing pills, or use three or four vaginal rings consecutively, followed by four to seven days of placebo pills or ring-free days. Use of pills that change dosing each week, tri-cyclic pills and the birth control patch are not recommended for this.

Finally, there is a time of adjustment when a woman begins extended cycles. A woman may experience spotting or light bleeding during the first few extended cycles. Most women adjust to the longer cycles after 4 to 6 months. If a woman is trying to avoid bleeding during a life event, she will be more successful if she has had time to adjust to the longer cycles.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.