When your period comes at an inconvenient time, it can get in the way of your plans. Are there ways to speed up your period or make it stop once it has started?
The research on controlling periods in this way is limited, but certain methods may work for some people.
People can also use a form of hormonal birth control to plan when to have their periods or stop them entirely.
In this article, we look at how to speed up or stop your period after it has started, and provide long-term solutions for managing periods.
People may want to speed up their period for a range of reasons, such as an upcoming life event or holiday. This is particularly relevant to those who have irregular cycles, which make it harder to plan ahead.
There are no foolproof ways to make a period stop, but some methods can increase the speed at which the menstrual blood leaves the uterus, which may shorten the period.
People can try the methods below for speeding up a period once it has started:
Having an orgasm
Sex or masturbation that leads to orgasm can stimulate contractions in the uterus, which may result in more menstrual blood leaving the body through the vagina.
Although there is no scientific evidence to support this technique, there are no adverse side effects, so it is not risky to try it.
Getting some exercise
The movement of the muscles during exercise may also help more uterine blood exit the body, potentially reducing the duration of a period.
Exercise can also help relieve cramping in some people. Again, there is not much research on this, but it is worth trying as exercise offers many other benefits.
Avoiding using tampons
Tampons soak up menstrual blood, but they may also block some menstrual flow from the vagina, which could extend the duration of bleeding.
Sanitary pads should not hinder the menstrual flow, so some people feel that using them can help their period to end sooner.
Stopping periods when using birth control
People who are taking the combined contraceptive pill can plan their period to some extent as they know that it will come during the week that they are taking either the dummy pills or no pills.
If they have started their placebo pills or pill break for the week and their period has commenced, they could begin taking their next pack of pills.
Doing this will increase the level of hormones in their body, which may shorten the duration of bleeding, although there is no guarantee of this.
People can stop their periods in the long term by using hormonal birth control. Doctors refer to this as "menstrual suppression."
Long-term methods for stopping your period include:
Intrauterine devices (IUD)
An intrauterine device (IUD) is a type of contraception that a doctor inserts into the uterus through the cervix.
People can get a hormonal or non-hormonal IUD. Hormonal IUDs may stop periods up to 80 percent of the time.
An IUD is a long-term contraceptive solution that will need replacing after 3–10 years, depending on the type and brand.
However, early removal of the device is possible for people who want to become pregnant or do not like having the IUD.
The combined pill
People take active pills for 3 weeks and then either placebo pills or no pills for 1 week, during which they will get their period.
One way to stop periods is to skip the placebo or pill-free week and begin a new pack instead. This delivers a constant amount of hormones and should prevent a period from occurring.
According to estimates, this method works up to 80 percent of the time.
There are also some prescription pills available that only give people a period every 3 months. People can discuss this option with their doctor if they are interested.
The DMPA shot, also known by the brand name Depo-Provera, is an injection of progestin that doctors deliver either under the skin or into the muscle. This medication inhibits the menstrual cycle.
After about 1 year of getting injections every 3 months, an estimated 70 percent of women do not get their periods.
A contraceptive implant is a small device that a doctor will place just below the skin in a person's arm.
The implant contains progestin, which helps inhibit ovulation and prevent follicle development, resulting in fewer or absent periods.
This method works to suppress periods in up to 41.25 percent of people after 3 years.
According to the National Women's Health Network, there is no evidence that skipping periods using birth control is harmful to health.
However, there are some possible side effects of taking certain types of hormonal birth control over many years.
For instance, according to the American Cancer Society, the long-term use of birth control may increase a person's risk of certain kinds of cancer. Conversely, it may decrease the risk of other cancer types.
People may wish to speed up or stop their period for many reasons. It may be particularly important for people in specific careers, such as those working as deployed military personnel or astronauts.
Some people use hormonal contraception to reduce the frequency of periods. It can also sometimes minimize the severity of menstrual pains and make periods less heavy.
People should talk to their doctor before deciding to stop or reduce their periods. There are many types of birth control pill, and different ones will suit different people.