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Yes, you can stop your period. But it will take some planning ahead.
Medically referred to as menstruation suppression, stopping your period can be done with varying hormonal birth control methods.
However, some of them can take a few months to be completely effective, says Sherry Ross, MD, an OB-GYN with her own private practice.
If you’re looking for a more immediate solution, you may be able to shorten your period or reduce your flow.
Here are some ways to stop your period altogether or just for a special upcoming occasion.
Is it possible to stop your period for a night/day?
If your period is going to coincide with a special occasion, you may be able to delay it until after, using these methods:
If you’re on birth control pills, you may experience bleeding every month when you take the placebo pills. If you have some placebo days coming up that coincide with your occasion, you can skip the placebo pills and start a new pack instead.
However, this may or may not prevent bleeding entirely; it can take two to three months of continuously taking active hormonal birth control pills, without any placebo pills, for any irregular bleeding to stop, says Ross. She therefore recommends planning ahead if you know you have a big occasion coming up in the next few months.
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. 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 to check whether this option is suitable for you.
What doesn’t work:
Ibuprofen and Aleve
High doses of anti-inflammatory medication like Ibuprofen or Aleve may help delay your period by a day or two, according to the Cleveland Clinic, although this method is not guaranteed to work. You would need to take 800 milligrams of Ibuprofen every six hours or 500 milligrams of Aleve every eight hours.
The recommended dosage of these medicines, if you’re taking them without medical supervision, is 200 to 400 milligrams of Ibuprofen every four to six hours or 1,000 milligrams of Aleve once a day. You should consult a doctor before you try taking anything above the recommended dose.
While this method is considered safe for most people, there isn’t much evidence about whether it works and it could potentially result in side effects like kidney damage or stomach ulcers.
Despite some claims, there is no evidence that consuming apple cider vinegar or lemon juice every day will delay your period. “None of these DIY home remedies will delay your period,” says Ross.
How to shorten your period or reduce flow if it has already started
If you’re not able to stop your period in time for your occasion, you may be able to shorten it or reduce its intensity with these methods.
- Ibuprofen and Aleve: Taking Ibuprofen or Aleve when you have your period 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.
- Herbal remedies: According to a 2016 review, herbal remedies like ginger capsules or myrtle fruit syrup could help reduce the duration and flow of your period; however the review says additional research is required to prove the safety and efficacy of these methods.
- Orgasms: 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: 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.
How to stop your period long term
If you’re looking for a more permanent solution, and want to nix your period for many months at a time instead of just for a few days or weeks, then you have several options:
- Continuous cycle pills: While the pill may or may not be able to stop your period on short notice, it can safely and effectively stop your period if you take active hormonal pills regularly for two or three months, says Ross. You can either skip the placebo pills or opt for a type of birth control pill called continuous cycle pills, which contain more active pills per pack. “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.
- Intrauterine devices (IUDs): According to Ross, Mirena and Kyleena are two types of IUDs containing the hormone progesterone that have been specially designed to help eliminate periods, especially for people with irregular or heavy periods. Once inserted into your uterus, the IUD may take three to six months to stop your period altogether, says Ross.
- Birth control implants: Nexplanon is a progesterone-containing birth control implant that is inserted into your arm for up to three years at a time, says Ross. This implant often stops your period, or results in a significantly lighter period. The added advantage of implants and IUDs is that you don’t have to remember to take a pill every day, says Ross.
- Birth control injections: Depo-Provera is a long-acting form of birth control containing progesterone that is given by injection every 12 weeks, says Ross. She says that while it can stop your period or make it more infrequent, it may also cause side effects like acne, weight gain, depression, and headaches.
- Endometrial ablation procedure: An endometrial ablation is a procedure that you can do to stop your period; it involves removing the endometrium, which is a thin layer of tissue in the uterus, to prevent it from regrowing every month, according to Ross. This procedure is sometimes recommended for people with very heavy or extended periods or those who are at risk of anemia due to menstrual blood loss. However, this procedure is not advisable if you wish to get pregnant in the future, as it can make carrying a pregnancy to term difficult and dangerous.
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, injections, or IUDs; these methods may take a couple of months to be effective.
If you’re 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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