Birth control can be a total lifesaver if you’re not trying to get pregnant right now. But it can also impact your period, and usually for the better. That’s why some ob-gyms will prescribe certain forms of birth control for period issues.
Still, if your primary reason for choosing birth control is the ability to decide when you want to have kids, you might not even think about how it can impact your period—but it’s important to factor it in. Here’s how your period can be affected by popular forms of birth control.
How it changes your period: The Pill, made up of progestin and estrogen, impacts everyone differently, but it can shorten the duration of your period and minimize bleeding, says Jessica Shepherd, M.D., an assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology and director of minimally invasive gynecology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. “A five- to seven-day period might be a three to four-day cycle on The Pill,” she says.
What else you need to know: This is a good option if you struggle with periods that are a bit off. “I use it to treat women with abnormal bleeding,” says Christine Greves, M.D., a board-certified ob-gyn at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies.
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How it changes your period: While it can help with your period, Greves says the mini-pill, which is a progestin-only option, is “not my go-to” for bleeding issues. Still, women who take the mini-pill can have periods that are lighter and experience less painful cramps than before, she adds.
What else you need to know: The mini-pill is pretty finicky. “You have to take it the same time each day and if you take it outside of a small window, the efficacy can go down,” Greves says.
How it changes your period: It depends on what kind of IUD you use. The copper IUD may make you bleed more heavily for the first few months and then cause spotting between periods, Greves says. But, given that it doesn’t contain any hormones, it may not impact your period at all, Shepherd says. If you have a hormonal IUD (which uses progestin), your monthly bleeding will usually go way down or even go away completely, Shepherd says. “The majority of women with this IUD forget to carry tampons in their purse because they don’t need them,” Greves says.
What else you need to know: Everyone is different and while the hormonal IUD may impact your period, it also can have no impact on it, Shepherd says. Still, IUDs last a lot longer than other forms of birth control and are pretty fool-proof, making them an option many doctors recommend.
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How it changes your period: This can impact your period the same way as a hormonal IUD—minimizing your period over time or taking it away completely, Shepherd says.
What else you need to know: The implant lasts for three years (definitely a pro), but it can cause spotting. “Half of these are removed because women are annoyed at the spotting,” Greves says.
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How it changes your period: The ring basically works the same way as The Pill—you just don’t have to remember to take it every day. “It will minimize your bleeding and regulate it,” Shepherd says.
What else you need to know: You have to remember to change it out on the right day every month. Still, if you’re good at keeping track of those kinds of things, it may be a good option for you.
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How it changes your period: It’s pretty similar to a hormonal IUD, Shepherd says. Initially you might have irregular bleeding for up to four months but, over time, the bleeding will be minimized or go away completely.
What else you need to know: Everyone is different, so while the shot can make your periods go away, it can also cause spotting or lighter periods.
If you’re still not sure which birth control method makes the most sense for you and your periods, talk to your doctor. They should be able to steer you in the right direction.