The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) said there is no health benefit to a seven-day break while taking the combined contraceptive pill. New Nice-approved clinical guidelines confirm advice already given by many doctors who recommend their patients against a seven-day break each month while on the pill. The FSRH has said that fewer and shorter breaks could reduce the risk of pregnancy.
Mr Narendra Pisal, consultant gynaecologist at London Gynaecology told Express.co.uk: “In my clinical practice, I often advise women to take the pill continuously without a break.
“Taking the pill continuously makes it easier for women to remember. By blocking the periods completely, it also improves a lot of period-related symptoms such as heavy bleeding, pain and anaemia.
“Taking it continuously is also known to improve conditions such as endometriosis, adenomyosis and menorrhagia.
However despite his advise, Mr Pisal said having a break is a more desirable option for some women: “The seven-day break makes the pill more ‘natural’ and acceptable for some women.
“A lot of women prefer to have a regular monthly period, as they feel reassured by it for various reasons (such as they feel it is more physiological to ‘have the blood come out’ and also a period means there is no pregnancy).
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“Taking a break does not make the adverse effects any worse or more common (such as headaches, sleep issues).
“Taking a break may cause cramping during periods and may also cause some mood swings when the hormones are withdrawn during a break.
“Skipping the break would improve the cramping and also the mood swings if associated with the break.”
Express.co.uk spoke to one woman who doesn’t like the idea of not taking a break – Jessica, 21.
Jessica said not taking a break makes her feel “not entirely sure” and “the idea of not having a period kind of freaks me out.”
She said she would feel odd not having a period, adding: “I think if I went months and months without one I’d either feel as though there’s something wrong with me or that I’m pregnant.”
On the other hand, for some not taking a break when using the contraceptive pill can be life-changing.
Hayley Smith told express.co.uk that taking the pill continuously, in her case the mini pill (cerazette or cerelle), has made her life easier.
Hayley suffers from endometriosis which causes her to have “incredibly irregular” and often “unbelievably heavy” periods as well as “immobilising” pain which would cause her to remain in bed for days at a time.
Taking the pill without a break has eliminated Hayley’s periods and minimised the symptoms her endometriosis causes.
Contraceptive pill break: The idea of not having a period is not ideal for some women
Hayley, 30, said: “I’ve been on cerazette (the mini pill) for over 8 years and I don’t take a break, meaning I haven’t had periods for that long either.
“I’ve never had any issues with it, though I do understand women suffer with it differently.
“Endometriosis was causing me to have irregular periods, heavy, and sometimes unplanned bleeding and the pains would absolutely immobilise me – I could be in bed for days at a time.”
Despite still experiencing flare-ups and stomach cramps which she now manages with painkillers and her diet as well as regular operations, Hayley says taking the pill has improved her quality of life.
“The pill has minimised all of these endometriosis symptoms. Though I still get really bad flare ups, I am not bound by my own body and not having to predict when I am going to have a period.”
Contraceptive pill: For others not having a break is a welcome relief from debilitating symptoms
However, the decision to have a break or not have a break should be undertaken with the consultation of your doctor.
GP Dr Jane Leonard advises: “With all medication, you should always follow the advice given by your doctor.
“In some cases, there are some medical conditions where sometimes you would be advised to take the contraceptive pill back to back.
“How long you do this for and the reason you would do it for depends on the condition you were trying to treat.
“It wouldn’t be something that you would want to do long term, normally the regimen for this is around 3 months and then you have a break.
“It’s often for conditions such as endometriosis or problems related to heavy periods regulation, so it’s definitely not something anybody should do without guidance from their doctor.”