My daughter has bad menstrual cycles. Her doctor has recommended she take birth control pills to stop her period, is that safe?
The National Women’s Health Network supports women who are interested in decreasing the frequency of their periods (menstrual cycle) or even stopping their periods entirely. This practice is called “menstrual suppression.”
There are currently are several oral contraception (OCs) options that work like other OCs and are used for menstrual suppression, including Seasonale, Seasonique, and Lybrel. With Seasonale and Seasonique, the woman takes the placebo pills every three months (versus every three weeks, as with regular OCs), and has a period four times a year. Lybrel has no placebo pills, so the woman doesn’t get a period at all. Another option is to use a progestin-only Intrauterine Device (IUD), which lightens or stops a woman’s period.
The IUD appears to be more effective than OCs for menstrual suppression. OCs can cause sporadic spotting and/or periods in the first year of use, and some women report that it’s similar to having a period. Data from clinical trials indicates that the spotting and periods subside over time for most women. There is a small risk that menstrual suppression can cause certain health risks, like stroke or blood clots; these are the same problems caused by traditional OCs, however. There have not been any long-term studies on the risks of menstrual suppression, and more research is needed to fully assess its safety. Women should always weigh their options carefully to make the best decision for their individual needs.
To learn more information on menstrual suppression’s risks, safety concerns, and benefits, check out our Fact Sheet: www.nwhn.org/menstrual-suppression.
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