Your friend has a destination wedding that you know will be lit and it’s on the week of your period. What do you do? You can delay your period if you dare. Here are some common ways to delay your period and the potential side effects you can expect.
Benefits of delaying periods
- Delaying your periods can be beneficial for managing health conditions like:
- Dysmenorrhea (a condition where you have painful periods)
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
Delaying periods can also be helpful for individuals like:
- Military personnel
- People with cancer
- People with developmental or physical disabilities
- Transgender and gender-diverse individuals
Types of ways to delay your period
Period delay tablets
Period delay tablets contain norethisterone which is an artificial version of progesterone. High progesterone levels thicken the uterine wall and a drop in the levels triggers the shedding of the uterine wall. These tablets work by keeping the progesterone levels in the body artificially higher for longer ultimately delaying the arrival of the period. The thing is there’s a limit to how long the thickened walls can be maintained, so usually it’s only possible to delay a period with these tablets only for about two weeks after it was due.
If you choose this option, you need to start taking the pills about 3 days before your period is due. Take the tablets three times a day for as long as you want to delay your period up to a maximum of 17 days. It’s important to keep in mind that this is not a birth control method.
Potential side effects
- Menstrual spotting (light bleeding)
- Low mood
- Loss of libido
- Breast pain/Tender breasts
Not suitable for women who:
- Are or could be pregnant
- Have just given birth
- Are breastfeeding
- Have a history of blood clots
- Are on other medication (talk to your doctor to be safe)
Birth control methods
Birth control pills
It’s possible to delay or prevent your period with extended or continuous use of any combined estrogen-progestin birth control pills.
Vaginal rings are a hormonal contraceptive method. The birth control ring is a small, flexible ring that a person inserts into the vagina. It stays in place for 3 weeks then the person removes it for 1 week to have a period. The continual use of the contraceptive vaginal ring can delay or prevent your period. Just change 1 every 3 to 5 weeks to skip your period.
There may be light spotting or bleeding although this should decrease after a few months.
The contraceptive patch releases hormones through the skin. The way a contraceptive patch works is you place it on the skin once a week for 3 weeks. The fourth week is typically hormone free which is when the period occurs. If you want to delay your period, instead of going hormone-free for the third week you apply a new patch that week. This method of delaying your period can be used for a longer period of time though it’s still safer to speak to your doctor before starting.
Side-effects of delaying your period with contraception
- Breakthrough bleeding – This refers to spotting between periods which is common when you first use hormonal birth control to prevent periods. Look out for it during the first few months. This decreases as your body adjusts to the new conditions.
- It can be difficult to tell if you’re pregnant
Changing your menstrual cycle is understood to be safe even though delaying or stopping your period remains controversial. Speak to your doctor before you start.
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