To delay your period, you can skip your placebo week of birth control and start a new pack.
You can also ask your doctor to prescribe you a progesterone pill before your period starts.
To stop your period long-term, try continuous cycle pills, an IUD, or Nexplanon.
There are many reasons why you may want to delay or skip your period altogether. Maybe it's a special event coming up. Or perhaps you just have really heavy, painful periods.
Whatever the reason, it is possible to safely lighten your flow, or even delay your period for days or months at a time. It just takes some planning ahead.
Medical term: Medically referred to as menstruation suppression, stopping your period can be done with varying hormonal birth control methods.
How to delay your period
You can delay your period with certain forms of hormonal birth control. But that's about all that will work.
Don't be fooled into thinking home remedies like drinking apple cider vinegar or lemon juice every day will help. "None of these DIY home remedies will delay your period," says Sherry Ross, MD, an OB-GYN with her own private practice.
Therefore, if you've just noticed that you have a big day coming up that happens to fall on the same day as your period, here are two forms of hormonal medication that may help you.
Skip your placebo week of oral contraceptives
Some types of birth control pills come with three weeks of active pills and one week of placebo pills. If you skip the week of placebo pills and start a new pack of active pills, instead, then the hormones in the active pills will prevent you from bleeding that week.
However, it's important to note that if this is your first time skipping a placebo week you may experience some irregular bleeding or light spotting, says Ross.
After two to three months of skipping your placebo week, you should see little to no spotting. Therefore, Ross recommends planning several months ahead if you know your period will coincide with a big upcoming occasion.
Moreover, you can get birth control pills in packs that last 28 days, 90 days, and even 365 days. That's right, you can go a year without your period while on the pill.
"Being able to stop your period completely is one of the most beneficial side effects associated with the pill and it's completely safe," says Ross.
Ask your doctor about hormonal medication
If you're not on hormonal birth control, you may be able to delay your period with hormonal medication containing norethindrone, which is a form of the hormone progesterone, the same active ingredient in hormonal birth control.
You need to start taking this medication a few days before the start of your period for it to delay your period. Note that you will probably get your period within a day or two of stopping it.
A small 2019 study found that people who took norethindrone to delay their period were less likely to experience irregular bleeding than those who tried to delay it with birth control pills. However, the study also found that those who took norethindrone were more likely to gain weight.
Visit your doctor for a prescription and check whether this option is suitable for you.
Methods that can stop your period long-term
If you wish to explore the idea of stopping your period long-term, you have options. At the very least, birth control can minimize the frequency of periods you have a year.
Birth control implants like Nexplanon work for up to three years and provide lighter periods or may stop them altogether depending on the person.
Endometrial ablation procedure: This procedure is usually only recommended for people with very heavy, prolonged periods who are at risk of anemia and shouldn't be considered if you are planning to get pregnant at any point in the future.
What if your period has already started?
If your period has already started, there isn't a magic bullet that will make it stop immediately.
However, there are some measures you can take that may reduce the flow, help with any pain, and potentially even shorten the number of days you have your period.
Try Ibuprofen or Aleve
If your period has already started, taking Ibuprofen or Aleve can help relieve menstrual cramps and reduce your flow by 20% to 40%. These medicines work by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins, which are inflammatory compounds that trigger contractions in your uterus.
Have an orgasm
Having an orgasm causes the muscles in your uterus to contract. If you already have your period, orgasming could cause blood to be expelled faster, which could potentially shorten your period, although there isn't much evidence to substantiate this. Orgasms may also help reduce the intensity of menstrual cramps.
Exercise the right way
Exercising regularly can help reduce the intensity of cramps and other symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, says Ross. Exercise may even reduce the frequency or length of your period. However, it's also important to note that exercising too much or suddenly starting an intense new exercise routine can cause your period to stop or become more irregular.
If you want to postpone your period for a day or two because you have an important occasion, you can ask your doctor for a prescription medication containing the hormone norethindrone ahead of time that you can start taking a few days before your period is due.
If you're already on the pill, skipping your placebo pills could delay your period, although this method may not work unless you take active hormonal birth control pills consistently for a few months.
You can stop your period altogether with hormonal birth control like continuous cycle pills, implants, or IUDs. These methods may take a couple of months to be effective.
If you aren't able to delay your period and are going through a painful period, exercise, drinking hot water, and eating calcium-rich foods may help relieve some of the pain, according to Ross. You can also take medications like Ibuprofen and Aleve to curb your flow and reduce your cramps.
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