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I’m thinking about taking the pill where you only get your period four times a year. I’ve heard there’s even a pill where you only get your period once a year. Is it OK to not get my period?

Seasonale, Seasonique and LoSeasonique are the brand names of FDA-approved birth control pills that allow you to only have four menstrual periods per year. Lybrel is the brand name of FDA-approved birth control pills that allow you to only get your period once a year. Seasonale, Seasonique, Jolessa and Lybrel are different from other birth control pills because when you take them you don’t experience monthly periods or the common complaints associated with menstruation, like cramping and mood swings.

How does it work?

Like other forms of hormonal birth control, these birth control pills release hormones that stop ovulation. Since the ovaries are not releasing an egg (ovum), pregnancy isn’t possible. The hormones also cause the cervical mucus to thicken, which helps prevent sperm from reaching the uterus, cervix and fallopian tubes.

With most birth control pills, there is a week of placebo pills at the end of each pack. Placebo pills contain no hormones and are included in the pack only to help you stay on schedule with taking a pill every day. With Seasonique, Seasonale and Lybrel, you continue to take an “active” pill—one that contains hormones—each and every day so that the lining of the uterus never gets built-up or sheds. Thus, those on a pill like this do not get their periods.

When taken correctly, all hormonal birth control is over 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. Taking any birth control pill consistently and correctly is the best way to ensure protection from an unintended pregnancy.

What are the drawbacks?

Some people like getting their periods for a variety of reasons. Many use their period as confirmation that they aren’t pregnant. Others just feel it’s an important part of feeling “female.” With pills like Seasonique, Seasonale or Lybrel, you need to take a pregnancy test if you are experiencing common symptoms of pregnancy, like breast soreness or tenderness, having to urinate (pee) more often, feeling really tired, feeling nauseous or throwing up.

Like with all hormonal birth control methods, there can be some side effects. The most common are unscheduled bleeding, headaches, nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness and difficulty wearing contact lenses due to dry eyes. These side effects, especially nausea and vomiting, may decrease within the first three months of use.

The serious side effects of these pills don’t happen often, especially if you are in good health and do not smoke. Below are some examples of serious side effects:

  • blood clots
  • liver tumors
  • high blood pressure

And, of course, hormonal birth control pills don’t provide any protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), so it is still important to use condoms even when on birth control pills.

How do I get these pills?

All hormonal birth control requires a prescription from a health care provider. Your doctor, gynecologist or a medical professional at a clinic can write one for you. They can also talk with you about all of your birth control options to make sure you are getting the right method for you.

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