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If You Want Your Period To Come Sooner Or Later Than Usual, Your Only Option Is To Manipulate It

If you want your period to come sooner or later than usual, your only option is to manipulate it with certain types of hormonal birth control.

First, an important disclaimer: Birth control, like any medication, should be taken as directed by the prescribing information and your doctor. If you’re interested in messing with your birth control in order to change your period in some way, that’s something you should talk to your doctor about, because it will likely vary depending on a few specific factors. Below, we spoke with several experts about how birth control can be used to change your period, but this information should not be considered a substitute for personalized medical advice. It’s always smart to talk to your doctor about your unique situation before messing around with your birth control method, especially if it’s your primary method of pregnancy prevention. This particularly applies if you're new to taking the pill.

With all that said, it is possible to adjust the timing of your period using some forms of hormonal birth control methods, like the pill. If you’re taking a combined hormonal birth control pill (with estrogen and progestin) you’ll generally get your period whenever you reach the week of placebo pills. So, if you want your period to come on a different week, you can typically take that placebo week earlier or later than directed. Again, this is something you should speak with a health care provider about first, as the specific instructions will depend on your unique situation and your brand of pills.
Here’s how this works: The most common kind of combination birth control pills have 21 “active” pills (the ones with hormones). Those leftover seven days are placebo pills to allow for your “period,” which is really a withdrawal bleed due to the reduced hormones. When you take the placebo pills, your progesterone levels go down, so your endometrial lining isn’t as stable.

So, if you want your period to come sooner or later than usual, it is recommended to take the placebo pills during the week in which you’d want to bleed. Bleeding will likely start within a day or two, she says. After you take the placebos, continue taking the active pills starting with the week you skipped. If you do this correctly, you should finish your pack right on time and be able to go into the next one as scheduled.

Remember, you’re messing around with your birth control, here. It’s possible your cycle may be thrown a little out of whack if you do this. That could mean more breakthrough bleeding later in the month (this can be common when you try to skip your period at length with any method). This is especially likely if you're on a low-dose pill. If it really bothers you, bring up the idea of switching to a higher-dose pill with your doctor to see what they think.

And if you’re really not a fan of your period, you could also ask your doctor about birth control pills that are designed to make your period come less often, or even to eliminate it entirely. Some types of the combination pill come with 12 whole weeks of active pills instead of 21 days. The idea is take the active pills straight through for three months, get your period, then start on the next menstruation-free 12-week streak again, the Mayo Clinic says. There may be a chance of breakthrough bleeding when you first start, but it might also decrease over time as your body gets used to your birth control.

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Dr. Nicholls

Dr. Nicholls

Women health specialist

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