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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 a woman or girl to only have four menstrual periods per year. Lybrel is the brand name of FDA-approved birth control pills that allow a woman or girl to only get her period once a year. Seasonal, Seasonique, Jolessa, Introvate and Lybrel are different from other birth control pills because women or girls who take them don’t experience monthly periods or any of 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 into a person’s body that cause her not to ovulate. Since she is not releasing an egg (ovum), she cannot become pregnant. The hormones also cause her cervical mucus to thicken, which helps prevent sperm from reaching her 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 her stay on schedule with taking a pill every day. With Seasonique, Seasonale and Lybrel, girls 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, they do not get their periods.

When taken correctly, all hormonal birth control has a failure rate of approximately one-percent per year. Taking any birth control pill consistent and correctly is the best way to ensure protection from an unintended pregnancy.

What are the drawbacks?

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

Like with all hormonal birth control options, there are 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 subside 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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