How to delay your period when you have a vacation coming up

You booked the airfare, the room, and the activities. You took time off from work, bought a great new swimsuit, and are all packed. Everything about your trip is all set, except for one tiny thing — your body didn’t get the memo and you’re going to have your period while on vacation. So many unexpected setbacks can happen even on the most perfectly planned trip, so the last thing you want to do is have to worry about your period. Well, good news, female travelers! If you’re using certain contraceptives, you can easily delay your period for a vacation — and it’s doctor-approved.

No matter where your vacation takes you, having your period during it is a pain. If your vacation plans entail activities by the water — like snorkeling, kayaking, or sitting poolside — you’ll be much more comfortable in your swimsuit not having to worry about bleeding and cramps. Or if your vacation is more focused on cultural pursuits, who needs to be constantly searching for a bathroom and making sure you have the right amount of sanitary products as you sightsee? And take care knowing that according to obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Pari Ghodsi, “there is no harm” if you do choose to use your birth control to skip a period during your trip.

Dr. Ghodsi has spoken to HelloGiggles before about women’s health matters and she is currently working with actor and singer Mandy Moore on the Her Life. Her Adventures education campaign by pharmaceutical company Merck. Her Life. Her Adventures encourages “women to plan for life’s adventures and learn about their birth control options.” And while the campaign is mostly focused on preventing unwanted pregnancy, Dr. Ghodsi was the perfect doctor to talk to about how birth control can help you make the most of your travel adventures.

As Dr. Ghodsi explains it, you can only skip your period when you are on a combined hormonal (meaning, both estrogen and progesterone) contraceptive, like birth control pills, the ring (like NuvaRing), or the patch (like Ortho Evra).

"Essentially what you would do is skip the week that you would normally have your period and go straight to your next month of birth control," Dr. Ghodsi says.

So if you take birth control pills, skip your placebo week of pills and go right to your next month’s active pills. If you use a ring, take it out at the start of week four and immediately put the next month’s ring in instead of waiting a week. If you use the patch, take the third week one off at the end of the week and immediately put on a new patch instead of skipping a week. As Dr. Dawn Stacey noted in her explanations for skipping periods with the ring and patch on Verywell, you’ll just need to make sure your insurance company allows you to have enough of your preferred birth control method on hand in order to successfully delay your period. Otherwise, it really is that simple — and freeing.

As long as you have been using that birth control method regularly, you should be all set. But if you decide to take birth control specifically so you can stop your period for a vacation, Dr. Ghodsi says, “The only thing to note is it typically takes a couple of months for a woman’s body to adjust to birth control so this is not something you could decide the week before vacation.” But again, every woman’s body is different, so check with your OBGYN.

If you’re a person who feels like bleeding comes with the menstruation territory and that there must be a drawback to skipping a month, we’re here to tell you that is not the case. As the Mayo Clinic noted, bleeding on birth control is not the same as bleeding when you’re not on birth control and it is not necessary for your health. And if you’re concerned your period will come back with a vengeance after skipping a month, Mayo Clinic noted that the main side effect from skipping periods is breakthrough bleeding — and that usually only happens if you are frequently using birth control to delay your period, not just for one month. Mayo Clinic also noted that if your doctor thinks it is safe for you to be on birth control, then it’s “probably safe to use them to delay your period.”

Speaking to your doctor about your birth control options is something Dr. Ghodsi also encourages. “You would want to talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits and choose the type that is best for you. Birth control is very individualized,” she says.

So as long as you have been on a birth control method for a few months, skipping your period for your upcoming vacay should prove to be a pretty pain-free experience.

And just imagine how much more room you’ll have in your bag when you don’t have to worry about packing all those pads and tampons.