Can Birth Control Pills Regulate Periods? Getting To Know Your Cycle

While it's normal to have irregular periods for the first few years, birth control (oral contraceptives) can be a great tool for controlling & regulating them.

I remember I started using birth control in grade 12, but I thought about using it way before that. The only reason I didn’t was because I was too scared to talk to my mom about it because I thought she would automatically assume I was having sex or wanted to... and that made me uncomfortable. If that’s your motivation, no problem – however, being a contraceptive isn’t the only benefit of birth control.

Can birth control regulate periods?

Birth control can be a great tool for regulating and controlling your period. I’m going to share some of the top ways birth control can help with your period, but first – what the hell is birth control and how does it work?

How birth control works

Birth control or ‘the pill’ as it’s often referred to is a kind of medication with hormones that you take every day to prevent pregnancy (among other things). Here’s how it works: you take one pill with hormones once a day, at the same time, for 21 days. Then sometime during days 21-28, you will have your period. Birth control is meant to be taken at the same time each day because this is what makes the pill the most effective.

In my case, I take my last pill on a Saturday, and usually I get my period between the Tuesday-Thursday of the following week. I begin taking my next pack the following Sunday, and usually my period is gone by Tuesday at the latest.

Some birth control pills come with ‘sugar pills’, taken from day 21-28. These pills don’t do anything, they’re just meant to keep you on track and in the habit of taking a pill daily. It’s also a helpful reminder to start a new pack. I personally don’t like the sugar pills, so I’ve opted for a birth control without sugar pills. Alternatively, if you’re on a birth control with sugar pills, you don’t have to take them – completely up to you if you want to take them or not.

Benefits beyond preventing pregnancy

Now, why would anyone want to deal with taking a pill every single day at the same time, you might ask? Well naturally, it’s added protection against pregnancy and it’s always nice to have some extra peace of mind. However, whether you’re having sex or not, birth control is a great little aid for Aunt Flo. Here are the top ways birth control helps with your period:

  1.     It regulates your period. By taking birth control pills, you can basically pinpoint the exact day your period will be arriving. This means the arrival of your period is never a guessing game. It also helps you know when your period will go away. Before birth control, my period could be anywhere from 3 days to the full 8 days. Sometimes it would go away on the third day and come back on the sixth (very annoying!) With birth control, I know when my period is coming and about how long it will stick around. That means I know when I'll need to pop on my period proof underwear to keep Aunt Flo at bay.
  1.     It chills out your worst period symptoms. One of the main reasons girls love birth control is it reduces really bad cramps. I had a friend who stayed home during her period due to vomiting and extreme pain caused by cramps. Once she started birth control, her cramps were much more manageable.
  1.     It puts YOU in control of your period. Vacation? Long distance boyfriend coming to town? Big game? Sometimes it feels like your period can come at the worst time. With birth control, you can go straight from one pack to the next and skip your period entirely. It’s a common myth that this is unhealthy – it’s perfectly safe to do, however talk to your doctor about it if you want to do it. Your doctor may recommend a different pill based on this information, especially because there are pills out there that can prevent you from getting your period for up to a year.

Finding the right birth control for you

Birth control can provide you peace of mind and become added support during your dreaded time of the month. I will warn you – it can take time to find the best pill for you. I’ve always had good skin, but the first pill I tried caused me to breakout constantly and didn’t regulate my period properly. The next pill I tried did the trick! Sometimes it takes a few tries to find the right one, but once you do you will not be disappointed.

It’s also worth mentioning at this point that there are other methods of birth control that can help you get to know your cycle and pinpoint the day of your period without having to take hormones. Natural Cycles is certified contraceptive app that uses an algorithm to predict your cycle – and the days where you should use protection – based on your temperature.

Birth control FAQs

Can the pill cause acne?

Birth control pills lower your androgen levels, which can have the pleasant side effect of giving you clearer skin. However, this doesn’t happen with all of them, and depending on which one you take, the change in hormone balance can sometimes make acne worse. You may want to try a few variations to find the right one for you.

Does the pill make your breasts bigger?

The hormones in birth control pills can increase the size your breasts slightly, usually as a result of fluid retention or temporary weight gain.

Can the pill make you emotional?

Some hormonal birth control options, including the pill, list mood swings as a possible side effect. If you suspect this could be the case for you after starting the pill, talk to your doctor about alternatives.

Does the pill make you gain weight?

The pill sometimes causes temporary weight gain, but this is usually due to fluid retention rather than extra fat and often the symptoms subside within a few months. Studies have shown no evidence that the pill leads to weight gain otherwise.

Can you get birth control pills over the counter?

In order to get birth control pills, you will need a prescription from your doctor. They will likely bring you in for ‘pill-checks’ every six months or so to make sure things are going smoothly. Bottom line - birth control pill can't be purchased over the counter. If you come across pills that are, they probably aren't safe or licensed.  

If you’re thinking of starting birth control to help regulate your periods, don’t be afraid to talk to your loved ones about it – there’s nothing to me ashamed of! And most importantly, talk to your doctor. They will help you find the pill the fits for you or they will help you find an alternative if the pill doesn’t feel right. And in the meantime, try our ‘oh-no’ proof underwear so you never get caught short.

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