Is it possible to stop or delay your period?
Let’s face it, Mother Nature doesn’t always have the best timing. Whether you’re going on holiday, to the pool or just want to stop your flow for a night: sometimes the start of your cycle is bound to clash with an important event. And while there is no on/off button for our period, there are some ways that may help you to delay it.
Although periods are normal, the truth is that they can be an inconvenience, especially when you’ve got big plans. If alternatives like period pants or tampons just won’t cut it, you might be relieved to find out that stopping a period – or technically delaying it – is definitely possible (so there’s no need to reschedule your holiday just yet). Let’s have a look!
Can you stop your period once it’s started?
In short, no one’s worked out how to do this yet. But once you’ve started menstruating, taking combined contraceptive pills immediately can make your period shorter and lighter . Also, taking over-the-counter painkillers reduces swelling of the uterine walls, which in turn diminishes bleeding and pain.
There are some natural ways to ease your flow too . Having sex on your period is one of them – an orgasm (or two!) can help reduce bleeding and period cramps. Another option is regular exercise, which helps relax the muscles in the uterus.
Meanwhile, many women+ swear by herbal teas containing valerian root and chamomile, while raspberry and nettle leaf tea are also thought to slow down menstrual flow. Just remember to always consult a doctor before trying herbal methods.
So, we’ve settled that our bodies can’t really switch periods off. But if you plan ahead, there are a few ways you can hold your flow for just long enough to make it to that special event.
Using the pill to stop your period from coming
If you regularly take the combined pill, you usually either take a break in between packets or take placebo pills for the last week of your packet. During this time, you may experience some withdrawal bleeding, which feels and looks very similar to menstruation. Though not technically a period, you can delay this flow by either starting a new pack immediately after you finish one (back-to-back) or by skipping your last week of placebo pills and starting a new pack. 
If you’re thinking about using the combined pill to delay your period, then it’s important to consult a medical professional before you go ahead. That way you can ensure that it’s safe for your particular body, and that it’s possible with the type of pill you take.
Also keep in mind that breakthrough bleeding or spotting might still happen when taking back-to-back pills. Our bodies react differently to hormones, so even though this method may delay your period (withdrawal bleeding, actually), there is still no absolute guarantee that you won’t see a few drops of blood in your underwear. This means you may want to keep some liners at hand, just in case!
How to delay your period using Norethisterone tablets
If you don’t take the combined contraceptive pill, then you can always speak to your doctor about other ways to postpone your flow. A common option is a medication called Norethisterone. It is basically a form of the hormone progesterone that works by preventing the uterus lining from shedding.
Norethisterone comes as tablets and should be taken around 3 days before your period is due (if you are unsure when this is, it’s a good idea to keep tabs on your cycle in advance – using a period tracker can help). You then have to continue taking the tablets for as long as you want to delay your flow. Once you stop taking them, your period should start in about 2 or 3 days. 
Temporarily stopping your period with other types of contraception
The pill isn’t the only type of contraception that has an effect on your period – most hormonal methods may change your flow in some way; either by making it lighter, heavier, or even stopping it altogether. This may happen after a few months while your body adjusts to the new hormones. That means these methods are more of a long-term option, rather than a way to delay your period for that pool party next week.
The hormonal IUD, the contraceptive implant and the contraceptive injection tend to be the ones that are most likely to stop your period completely while you use them. Just be mindful that everyone responds in a unique way to each type of contraceptive method so it’s best to check with your doctor.
Can you stop periods forever?
Sometimes, periods can be so tough that it’s easy to wish they would just disappear forever! But the only way that periods end naturally (without surgical intervention) is when we go through menopause, which stops ovulation and thus, periods. Even then, it’s a gradual process and they don’t just switch off one day.
In the meantime, your best bet for stopping or delaying periods are with the options we mentioned, but they only last for as long as you take or use them.
We know that periods can be a pain (quite literally!) but getting clued up on how to manage them can help you to feel more confident and at ease. For more information on living with periods, head over to our pages on what helps period pain and signs that your period is coming.
The medical information in this article is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult your doctor for guidance about a specific medical condition.