On the pill, but missed your period? Here's why you probably don't need to panic.
It’s not uncommon for women to miss periods or have only very light bleeding on hormonal birth control. The hormones in the birth control pill or hormonal intrauterine devices stop your body from ovulating, so the lining of the uterus does not build up in preparation for a possible pregnancy. The “period” you get during the last week of every pill pack isn’t a real period; it’s just your body’s reaction to not getting the hormones you’ve been taking the previous three weeks. It’s safe to purposely skip the placebo pills and go straight to a new pack. Women who have hormonal IUDs may stop getting a period altogether. So it’s fine if you don’t bleed when you’re on the pill. Your body doesn’t need to.
The drawback is that it’s more difficult to tell if you’re pregnant. True, if you’re great about taking your pill or if you have a hormonal IUD, you have very little reason to worry. But if you skip a period or two, there is still a very slim chance that you are pregnant.
Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.