You know that last row of pills at the end of every birth control pack? Those are called placebo pills. Think of these pills as placeholders without hormones. They serve as reminders to keep taking your pill daily before you start your next pack, and if you’re taking your birth control correctly, the absence of hormones in them should result in a period. There’s been some debate on whether or not it’s a good move to skip these stand-in pills. Skipping them can actually reduce how many periods you get—and tempting though that sounds, it’s important to understand a bit more about these pills before tossing them and moving right on to your next pack.
Luckily, there are no outright disadvantages to not taking your placebo pills. This has been proven to be totally safe, and the only problem that may occur is not getting that extra level of reassurance that you’re not pregnant in the form of a period.
Another downfall to skipping your placebo is that it might not eradicate all bleeding. Instead of that one, specifically timed week of getting your period, you might actually experience occasional spotting between packs. This, however, typically only occurs when you first start taking the birth control pill, so you most likely won’t need to worry if you’ve been on oral contraceptives for awhile.
In terms of advantages, skipping the placebo pill comes in handy for those instances when you know your period is on the horizon, but you just really don’t want to have it (I mean, what’s worse than having your period on vacation?). Forgoing the placebos allows you to play Mother Nature by deciding when you want to have a period. Another benefit of not taking your placebo pill is that in some circumstances (depending on your body) it can help regulate your period. If your body is susceptible to seriously prolonged periods, or you get your period more often than what seems normal, not taking these last week’s worth of pills can help get your cycle back on track.
The bottom line is that skipping the placebo pill isn’t unsafe. It can result in a number of bodily outcomes, but all in all, nothing terrible is going to happen should you not take that last stretch of pills in your pack. However, remember to always consult your doctor before making the decision to skip the pills to find the best option for you and your body.