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Ways to delay period : How safe are they?
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Ways to delay period : How safe are they?

Periods can sometimes be a spoilsport on your plans. The good news is that there are safe ways to postpone it on rare occasions

Methods to delay periods include hormonal methods and natural methods.

While periods are usually a monthly affair, most women have a love-hate relationship with it. While on one hand, the sight of Aunt Flo can be a relief, on the other hand, it can seem like an unwelcome intruder, especially if it clashes with well-curated plans — a holiday or a wedding. Thankfully, there are several ways to delay your periods, letting you go about your plans sans hindrances.

There are hormonal and natural ways of delaying periods. While the effectiveness of natural methods is debated, one must seek professional advice while resorting to hormonal methods to delay their period, to ensure the safe and appropriate use of these medications, and to take individual health considerations into account.

Methods to postpone periods

The hormonal methods of postponing periods include hormonal pills, birth control patches, and vaginal rings.

Synthetic hormonal pill

“A prescription medication, synthetic progesterone pill called norethisterone can postpone menstruation for up to 17 days. The pill can be taken for a maximum of 20 days, beginning three days before the anticipated start of the period,” says Dr Seema Sharma, associate director – of obstetrics and gynecology at Paras Health, Gurugram.

Once norethisterone is stopped, menstruation usually starts within two to three days.

The medicine contains progestogen which produces effects similar to the female sex hormone progesterone.

The progesterone levels in the body go up during ovulation. The hormone is responsible for thickening the uterine lining to prepare it for pregnancy. In the absence of pregnancy, the progesterone levels begin to drop, 9 to 10 days after ovulation. This causes the uterine lining to shed, leading to menstruation.

Norethisterone mimics progesterone, preventing the uterine lining from shedding, and thereby delaying menstruation. However, self-medication is to be avoided.

Vaginal rings and birth control patches

A vaginal ring is a soft plastic ring that is placed inside the vagina. Birth control patches are sticky patches worn on the skin. They release estrogen and progestin into the bloodstream, preventing ovulation, and consequently menstruation.

Combination pills

Combined pill is a form of oral contraceptives containing both estrogen and progestin. “It’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before making any adjustments to the pill regimen,” says Dr Sharma.

Medical reasons for postponing menstruation

Some people experience severe forms of premenstrual syndrome, like premenstrual dysphoric disorder, characterized by extreme mood swings, anger, irritability, hopelessness, and lack of energy.

“In such instances, we try to limit the number of periods they get in a year. Sometimes contraceptive implants are used to stop periods for an extended period until the symptoms are brought under control,” says Dr Bhavani Stalin, consultant, obstetrics and gynecology, Aster CMI, Bangalore.

Dysmenorrhea, or painful periods, is another instance when the number of periods is limited with medications. Alternatively, some tablets can reduce period pain.

“When some women experience severe headaches and migraines before their periods, doctors consider menstrual suppression as an option,” says Dr Bhavani. “Sometimes, the hormonal tablets can worsen migraine. It is advisable to discuss with a health care professional before using these medicines for avoiding headaches,” she adds.

Further, she says that women who have low hemoglobin levels and anemia are also advised to limit their period temporarily until their hemoglobin levels are improved with iron supplements.

Who should avoid period-delaying medicines?

Dr A Prasanna Latha, Senior Obstetrician and Gynecologist, Kamineni Hospitals, Hyderabad, explains who should avoid period-delaying medications.

  • People with diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Personal or family history of thromboembolism or blood clots
  • Smokers
  • Extremes of age (teenagers and those nearing menopause)

Dr Bhavani emphasizes that people with a personal history of blood cancer, severe liver conditions like liver cirrhosis, and abnormal or unexplained vaginal bleeding unrelated to periods, aren’t prescribed period-delaying tablets.

“These tablets are only prescribed once pregnancy is ruled out, as it is not advisable to take them during pregnancy,” she adds.

Risks of period delaying medicines

Dr Bhavani lists some side effects associated with period-delaying medications:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling in hands, feet, face
  • Rashes

Regular use of these medications can also cause irregular periods.

“The hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, a system which controls female reproduction, can get disrupted, causing irregular periods,” says Dr Prasanna Latha, adding that the menstrual cycle usually becomes normal in 2-3 months.

Delaying periods naturally

There is little scientific evidence about the effectiveness of natural methods to delay periods. However, several herbal methods are thought to have the ability to postpone periods at times.

“Apple cider vinegar may help postpone periods when taken one tablespoon in warm water for ten to twelve days before the anticipated period,” says Dr Sharma.

Gram lentils — fried and powdered are also used. Excess consumption can cause digestive issues. Gelatin dissolved in warm water; an ancient Chinese remedy can delay periods for a few hours, besides lime juice, fuller’s earth, and mustard seeds.

“While intense exercise may occasionally cause delayed periods, as seen in many athletes frequently miss their periods because of their strenuous training regimens. However, scientific evidence also indicates that exercise can regularize periods,” adds Dr Sharma.

Getting a uterine massage (lower abdominal massage) may also be an option to consider. Not only is it very soothing and relaxing but as experts believe, it can also be a hack to delay periods or postpone cycles. 

Takeaways

  • Methods to delay periods include hormonal methods and natural methods.
  • Hormonal methods include synthetic progesterone pills, combination pills, vaginal rings, and birth control patches.
  • Natural methods include getting uterine massages and consuming lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar. However, the efficacy of natural methods is not scientifically proven.
  • Doctors also advise against self-medication of hormonal medicines.

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