“There’s absolutely no medical need to have a period when you’re on contraception,” says Micks in the interview. Her statement left a lot of female listeners wondering: Um, so you mean the blood, cramps, bloating , and fatigue are all for nothing?
“When you’re taking a birth control pill, your ovaries are not doing the talking, the pill is doing the talking,” says Streicher. “So what happens during the week of taking the sugar pills is that you’re going through hormonal withdrawal: By stopping the pill, you experience a drop in estrogen and progesterone, which causes the lining of the uterus to shed. We refer to it as a period, but it’s really not. It’s a withdrawal bleed, which is completely different.”
So, does this mean you can skip the sugar pills and just head straight into a new pill pack?
Streicher says yes. “I tell every single patient to skip the week of sugar pills—not only is it of no benefit to you, but there are actually benefits to not taking that week off from the hormones. For example, if you look at women who have things like menstrual migraines, endometriosis , [and] cramps, they’re much better off taking their pill pack straight through to not deal with those symptoms.”
In fact, Striecher says she can’t think of any scenario in which she’d not recommend skipping the period week. “I think in the future, people are going to look back and say, ‘Really? They took a week off? Why was that?’”
Er, because the average woman is just hearing about this now?