Many medications can delay your period, but they come with health risks. Learn whether it’s safe to use birth control, NSAIDs, estrogen, and more.
Periods are a natural part of life for most women, but that doesn’t make them any more fun to deal with.
When your period shows up at an inconvenient time, it’s tempting to look for ways to delay it for a little while.
However, messing with your menstrual cycle can have side effects of medicine that range from annoying to downright dangerous.
Let’s take a look at some of the options for postponing your period and whether they’re really worth the risks.
Using Birth Control to Delay Your Period
One of the most common ways to delay your period is by skipping the placebo pills in your birth control pack.
This allows you to skip your period entirely or at least push it back by a week or more.
However, there are a few potential problems with this method:
- It raises your risk of breakthrough bleeding. Skipping periods can cause spotting or light bleeding even if you are still taking active birth control pills. This unpredictable bleeding can ruin your clothes or plans.
- You may experience side effects. Birth control pills contain hormones. Taking them for longer periods without a break increases your chance of getting headaches, bloating, or mood changes from the extra hormones.
- It’s not recommended long term. Doctors advise only skipping periods occasionally, not every month. Long-term hormone use without breaks may pose health risks.
Taking NSAIDs to Delay Your Period
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen are sometimes used to delay periods for special occasions.
NSAIDs reduce prostaglandins, hormones involved in menstruation. However, research shows NSAIDs only postpone periods by about 1-2 days on average.
Plus, frequent use of NSAIDs can cause:
- Digestive issues like ulcers
- Liver or kidney damage
- Increased bleeding during periods
For these reasons, NSAIDs are not considered a safe long-term option for delaying menstruation.
Using Estrogen Supplements to Stop Periods
In some cases, doctors may prescribe estrogen supplements to deliberately stop periods for several months.
However, estrogen should never be used for this purpose without medical supervision due to the risks:
- Blood clots
- Heart attack and stroke
- Breast cancer
- Gallbladder disease
The Takeaway: Don’t Mess with Your Hormones
While it may seem convenient to press pause on your period for an event or vacation, doing so artificially with medication often backfires.
The hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle affect your entire body – it’s best not to mess with them unless absolutely necessary.
If you’re looking to avoid surprises from your period, track your cycle carefully so you can plan around it.
Use a period calendar app, record your symptoms, and learn your average cycle length.
With a few minor precautions like wearing a pad or keeping supplies handy, you can confidently go about your life even during your period.
A little planning goes a long way to making menstruation manageable without resorting to drugs with side effects of medicine.