The type of birth control you choose, when you start taking it, and the unique chemistry of your body all play a role in when your next menstrual period will be.
With combination pills, your next period will begin in roughly 21 days. This will coincide with the inactive (placebo) pills in your pack.
Progestin-only pills — also known as minipills — deliver a continuous stream of hormones throughout the month. You may menstruate on your usual cycle or notice that your period is more or less frequent over time.
You may use the vaginal ring or the skin patch on a similar schedule, so the time of your next period will depend on whether you take a week off between removing your birth control device and replacing it as directed.
It ultimately depends on where you were in your overall menstrual cycle at the time of the procedure and how your body responds to the influx of hormones (or copper ions in the case of the copper IUD).
The chart below shows birth control methods that can affect menstruation, detailing how they can change your period regularity, length, and flow.
|Birth control method||When to expect menstruation||Additional notes|
|Combination pill||every 21(ish) days||Most combo pill packs come with 21 days of active pills and 7 days of inactive pills. You have a period when you take the inactive pills.|
|Copper IUD||varies person to person||The copper IUD can stay in your body for up to 12 years. It can cause spotting between periods, irregular periods, or periods that are heavier or longer. More severe cramping is also possible. This is especially common during the first 6 months.|
|Hormonal IUD||varies person to person||A hormonal IUD can stay in your body for up to 8 years, though this varies between brands. It can cause spotting between periods, irregular periods, or periods that are lighter, heavier, or longer. This is especially common during the first 6 months and may lessen over time.|
|Implant||varies person to person||The implant can stay in your body for up to 3 years. It can cause spotting between periods, irregular, shorter, or longer periods, or can cause your period to stop altogether.|
|Minipill||varies person to person||Minipill packs do not contain inactive pills, which makes your period harder to predict than with the combo pill. Some people’s periods get lighter, longer, more frequent, or heavier.|
|Patch||every 21(ish) days||The patch is designed to be changed once a week for 3 consecutive weeks and then remove it for 1 week, during which you will get your period.|
|Shot||varies person to person||The shot is administered once every 3 months. Your period may be irregular for the first 12 months of consecutive use. After that, some people lose their period altogether.|
|Vaginal ring||every 21(ish) days||The vaginal ring is designed to be left in for 3 weeks at a time. When you take the ring out for the fourth week, you get your period.|
“Not having a period because of the effects of certain hormonal birth control medications is OK,” says Michelle Forcier, MD, a gender affirming clinician with virtual healthcare service FOLX.
“It isn’t unhealthy to not have periods because of birth control,” they say.
All hormonal birth control methods affect your menstrual cycle in some way, shape, or form. When it comes to nonhormonal contraception, the copper IUD is the only method that affects menstruation.
The same goes for other barrier methods, including the diaphragm, sponge, and cervical cap, as well as behavioral or lifestyle methods of pregnancy prevention, including fertility awareness and abstinence.
If you need to become more familiar with your typical menstrual cycle, now is the time to get acquainted. Tracking your bleeding patterns for at least 3 consecutive months can give you valuable insight into your overall menstrual health.
Your menstrual cycle starts on the first day of your period, whatever that may look like for you.
Some people find that their overall cycle has the same number of days each month, with the same number of days spent menstruating. Others may have more irregularity.
“Generally speaking, periods are considered normal if they last for under 7 days and if their cycle lasts from 21–35 days,” says Forcier.
If you can predict when you’ll get your next period, are late, have had a recent lapse in birth control, and have recently had penis-in-vagina (P-in-V) sex, it may be worth taking an at-home pregnancy test.
If your cycle is irregular, the only way to know if your period is simply late or if you’re pregnant is to wait it out or to take a pregnancy test 21 days after you last had P-in-V sex.
“If you’re pregnant, you should seek medical care in the first trimester to come up with your personal pregnancy plan,” they say.
Although most forms of nonhormonal birth control do not affect your overall cycle or menstrual period, the copper IUD is associated with longer, heavier bleeding.
All hormonal birth control options have the potential to affect when, how much, and how long you bleed. The specifics vary from person to person and method to method.
Gabrielle Kassel (she/her) is a queer sex educator and wellness journalist who is committed to helping people feel the best they can in their bodies. In addition to Healthline, her work has appeared in publications such as Shape, Cosmopolitan, Well+Good, Health, Self, Women’s Health, Greatist, and more! In her free time, Gabrielle can be found coaching CrossFit, reviewing pleasure products, hiking with her border collie, or recording episodes of the podcast she co-hosts called Bad In Bed. Follow her on Instagram @Gabriellekassel.