The Best Birth Control For Controlling Your Menstrual Cycle

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What Each Birth Control Does To Your Period

Whether you have irregular periods, a super heavy flow or debilitating cramps, the common treatment prescribed to control your symptoms is birth control. Often, you can even use birth control to help you control WHEN you have your period.

There are lots of birth control options, but we don't talk about how they affect menstruation since the focus is generally on preventing pregnancy (or the dreaded STD).

Birth control is extremely important for most women, and it's important to have the talk about what option is best for you, your lifestyle and your needs.

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Maybe you're the type of gal who needs more control over when she has her period. Or maybe you want to know how to stop having them altogether! (Yes, some birth control methods can do this over time.) Or maybe you just want to see some of your birth control options and are curious about how they could affect your monthly visitor.

Most birth control options do affect your menstrual cycle in one way or another. But which ones are actually helpful for treating menstruation? And what do each of them do?

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While everyone’s body is different and reacts differently to certain methods, these are the general guidelines of what each method helps with:

The birth control pill.

One of the most common treatments for period related issues is birth control pills. If you have an irregular period, the pill is your best bet for regulating it. It can also help with lightening very heavy periods because the amount of hormones in the pill is so low. This will also help you avoid the risk of getting anemia.\

Plus, for a lot of women, birth control pills allow the for the option to control when you have your period. Have a fun beach weekend planned and are about to get your period? No problem.

The pill can help you postpone that period until next month.

The pill is also used for curing those super painful cramps and alleviating some PMS symptoms, which is the reason most doctors prescribe it. The pill has also been known to be helpful in treating acne (score!). You may still experience some irregular spotting during the first few months, which is more common if you’re taking progestin-only pills.

Warning: Spotting can also result from forgetting to take the pill, even if you’re only a few hours late taking it. So, if you’re a forgetful person, this might not be the best option for you.

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The Depo shot or birth control implant.

Shots like Depo-Provera and arm implants like Nexplanon commonly cause your period to stop (eventually). While this may sound scary, OBGYNs from Mayo Clinic agree that skipping periods while you’re on some type of birth control is perfectly healthy.

However, studies show that most women don’t stop getting their period until about a year after starting the birth control. In the first 12 months, there might actually be an increase in period spotting, so, if you can deal with that, then get ready to reap the benefits of not having to buy pads or tampons.

If you opt for the shot, remember that you’ll need to get it every three months for it to be effective at preventing pregnancy. Nexplanon lasts for three years, but the insertion and removal of it requires a doctor, so keep that in mind if you decide you don’t like how it’s working for you.

Personally, I’ve had the Nexplanon implant for a little over a year and I only get minimal spotting every one to two months. It’s a glorious life.

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Hormonal IUDs.

For starters, there are two types of IUDs — the copper IUD, and the progestin IUD. Each one has different side effects.

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With the copper one, spotting between periods might be heavier and longer, and periods might be heavier in the first three to six months. In most cases though, this fixes itself over time and you’ll experience normal or close-to-normal periods after that.

The progestin IUD also will leave you with some spotting in the first few months, but after you’ll most likely have a very light or absent period.

Both of these methods last between 3 to 5 years, so, if you’re going to get it, consider that as well since insertion and removal will require a doctor’s visit.

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Vaginal ring.

Vaginal rings like Nuvaring are small flexible rings that you can insert yourself (no extra doctor visits! Yay!). They stay in you for three weeks and then are removed during the fourth week to allow for menstruation. While it does release estrogen and progestin, it won’t have that much of an effect on your cycle. You’ll be regular but might still experience spotting between periods.

Everyone’s cycles are different and your cycle when you’re using one of these methods is not your natural cycle. That means that the side effects will only last as long as you’re using the product. Talk to your doctor to make sure everything about the contraceptive you want to use will agree with your body.

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Josephine Fuller is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture and relationship topics.