It’s almost that time of the month. You’re about to start your period, but you have a big vacation coming up.
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Instead of dealing with menstrual crampsbleeding and bloating, you wonder what your options are.
Can you stop your period? And is it safe?
“A lot of people think if you skip your period, it’s not safe,” says Ob/Gyn Stacie Jhaveri, MD. “But it’s actually very safe, if done correctly.”
Dr. Jhaveri talks about ways to safely stop your period and methods to avoid.
Is it safe to try to stop your period?
Whether it’s for a week, a month, or even long term, it is possible to stop your period.
Some people want to stop or delay their periods because of special events like a wedding or honeymoon. For others, the desire to stop menstruating stems from a medical reason such as:
Although it is safe to stop your period, remember that your body normally follows a cycle that ranges from 21 to 35 days. And it all has to do with hormones.
“Estrogen is the hormone that causes tissue to build up in your uterus, which provides a nice, soft lining for an implant pregnancy,” says Dr. Jhaveri. “If you don’t get pregnant, that tissue has to come off, and it’s your period. After ovulation, another hormone, progesterone, is released and helps you stay pregnant. But if you don’t get pregnant during this cycle, the progesterone disappears and that’s when your period comes.
This decrease in progesterone causes your uterus to shed its lining, which leads to menstruation.
“If you can prolong progesterone, that’s the most effective way to stop your period,” says Dr. Jhaveri. “You pretend to be pregnant thinking you are pregnant.”
How to stop your period
It’s best to talk to your gynecologist about ways to stop your period.
“The success rate will be very different depending on when you try in your cycle and which method you use,” says Dr. Jhaveri.
If you know a big event is brewing in the next few months, the sooner you can plan with your doctor, the better, says Dr. Jhaveri.
It is also important to note that there is no way to stop your period once it has started. And with all these methods, there is a risk of breakthrough bleeding.
Here are some options to discuss with your doctor.
birth control pills
With many different brands and options, birth control pills are widely used to prevent pregnancy.
Birth control pills usually come in a box of 28 pills. Normally, you would take three weeks of active pills, which contain hormones. Then, in the fourth week, you were taking placebo pills, which do not contain hormones.
But if you want to stop your period, you can skip the placebo week and start a new pack. This will keep your estrogen and progesterone levels high, so the lining of your uterus won’t come loose.
Although you can continue to take the pills with hormones to prevent your period, Dr. Jhaveri recommends discussing a strategy with your doctor.
“With birth control pills in particular, it’s recommended to have a period every three or four months to get rid of any extra tissue that has built up, otherwise it could lead to very irregular bleeding,” says Dr. Jhaveri.
Intrauterine devices (IUDs)
An IUD is a good birth control option for those who want an effective solution and don’t have to think about it for a while.
A T-shaped device is inserted into your uterus during an in-office procedure. Although there are copper versions and plastic versions, the plastic versions are the only ones that contain hormones. Many people who have a plastic IUD have lighter periods or periods that stop completely.
“If you don’t want to have periods, you should consider an ongoing progesterone method like an IUD that contains hormones,” says Dr. Jhaveri. “If you just want to stop a period during a cycle, an IUD won’t be your best bet.”
Vaginal rings and patches
Like birth control pills, these methods deliver 21 days of hormones. You receive these hormones either through a patch placed on your belly and changed weekly, or through a plastic ring inserted into your vagina for three weeks.
After the three weeks, you usually take these methods off for a week to get your period. But if you want to stop or skip your period, use a new patch or ring just after 21 days.
“Similar to birth control pills, you would simply use these methods continuously to stop your period,” says Dr. Jhaveri.
You can get vaccinated every three months with a high dose of progesterone.
“The vaccine is most successful at stopping your period long-term because it will suppress estrogen the most and suppress tissue buildup the most,” says Dr. Jhaveri. “So if someone really needs to suppress their period because of heavy flow or other issues, the vaccine has one of the highest success rates.”
However, due to its high hormone levels, there is a higher risk of side effects such as bloating, mood swings, and weight gain. You should also consider that this is more of a long-term method than other options.
“Once you get the vaccine, you’re stuck for at least three to four months,” says Dr Jhaveri. “If you don’t like your pill, you don’t take it the next day. Don’t like your patch? You don’t wear it. But once you’ve received the vaccine, it stays in your system for three months or more, so it’s important to consider all of your options before deciding which method is right for you.
An implant is another birth control option that has the potential to stop your period.
A thin flexible rod, which releases progesterone, is inserted under the skin of your arm. Although it can usually last up to three years, it is possible to remove it before that date.
“The implants have the same benefits as the injection and are very effective, but one unique benefit is that if you don’t like it, you can have it removed,” says Dr. Jhaveri. “You don’t have to worry about it staying in your system for an extended period of time.”
What doesn’t work
The internet is full of ideas and ways to stop your period. But many of them are fake. The following methods do not work to stop your periods:
- Drink lemon juice.
- Drink salt water.
- Drink water with vinegar.
- Take the morning after pill.
- Take ibuprofen.
- Drinking raspberry leaf tea.
- Drink pineapple juice.
“There is absolutely no science as to why these methods would work to stop your period,” Dr. Jhaveri points out. “None of these ideas will provide enough hormonal regulation to stop your period. You can potentially hurt yourself by trying random methods and they can cause irregular bleeding.
Your best course of action? Consult your doctor on the best way to stop your period.
Also, if you have high blood pressure or suffer from migraines with aura, taking estrogen, which can be found in many forms of birth control, is not recommended.
For most people, using some form of birth control to help stop their period is an option.
“If you want to be successful in stopping your period, talk to your doctor,” advises Dr. Jhaveri. “Even on a virtual visit, doctors can offer a quick 15-minute consultation to find out your medical risk factors and the best way to stop your period with the time you’re watching.”