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There are many reasons why you might want to stop your period. Whether you want to know how to stop your period for sex, prevent your period for a day trip to the lake, or just avoid the inconvenience of menstrual care, you’ve got options.
The most commonly used method to stop your period (and really, the only method) is hormonal birth control—pills, vaginal rings, shots, implants, and some types of intrauterine devices (IUDs) that can help stop your period. Read on to learn more about the available options.
How to stop your period naturally
If hormonal birth control isn’t ideal for you, you may want to know how to stop your period naturally. Unfortunately, the short answer is that you can’t. TikTok trends like stopping your period with a lemon or vinegar won’t work at best and, at worst, may cause infection or irregular bleeding.
It’s important to understand that some things aren’t physically possible. You can’t stop your period once it has already started. You also can’t stop your period for one night or make it come faster.
Several birth control options may stop your period, but this doesn’t happen overnight. Using birth control to stop your period takes time, preparation, and communication with your healthcare provider. Different options will work better for some people than others, and preventing bleeding is not guaranteed. And some people may experience irregular bleeding rather than no bleeding.
Birth control may stop your period
Hormonal birth control may stop your monthly period. These options use estrogen, progesterone, or both to mimic the hormones your body would produce if you were pregnant. Your body thinks you are pregnant, so your ovaries don’t release another egg, and you may not have a period (Cooper, 2022).
There are different forms of hormonal birth control you can use to stop your period, including:
- Depo-Provera (the birth control shot)
- Contraceptive implants
- Birth control pills
While all of these options are very effective at preventing pregnancy when used correctly, some work better than others at stopping your period (Hillard, 2014; Bansode, 2021). None of these methods are available over the counter.
10 reasons for a missed period
Continuous use of birth control pills
Birth control pills come in packs that include active pills (containing hormones) and placebo pills (not containing hormones).
When contraceptive pills were invented, the scientist who created them wanted to make them as “natural” as possible for women’s health. So, he included a placebo week in which women would get their periods. However, this does not mean that you have to have a period every month for your health (MacGregor, 2018).
Many women take birth control pills continuously to stop their period (i.e., starting a new pack of pills after their last active pill and skipping the placebo week). In fact, it is a common practice for women who engage in sports professionally or recreationally (Schaumberg, 2018). Healthcare providers also prescribe oral contraceptives for painful periods, heavy menstrual bleeding, endometriosis, fibroids, and other conditions (Cooper, 2022).
Common side effects of the pill include nausea, headaches, abdominal cramping, breast tenderness, increased vaginal discharge, and decreased sex drive. If you take birth control pills continuously, you may experience breakthrough bleeding (Cooper, 2022).
A potential downside of taking birth control pills is that you have to take them every day. If this is hard for you, you may want to consider one of the longer-acting hormonal birth control methods.
Vaginal rings, like oral contraceptives, can be used continuously to stop your period. They are flexible plastic rings you insert into the vagina monthly.
Typically, you leave the ring in for three weeks and then take it out for the fourth week of your cycle. When you don’t have the ring in, you get your period. If you don’t want to have a period, you insert a new ring immediately after removing the previous ring.
Using vaginal rings in this way is as effective as using birth control pills to stop your period. However, you may experience more breakthrough bleeding with the ring than with the pill (Hillard, 2014).
Vaginal rings (brand names Nuvaring and Annovera) are not currently FDA-approved for continuous use, and this is considered “off-label” (UptoDate, n.d.)
How long does birth control take to work?
The contraceptive implant is a form of hormonal birth control that’s likely to stop your period, but that side effect isn’t guaranteed. In the US, it’s sold under the brand name Nexplanon.
The contraceptive implant is a small plastic rod approximately the size of a matchstick. A healthcare professional makes an incision and places it in your upper arm under the skin. It releases a form of progesterone that prevents pregnancy. The implant lasts for three years, and unlike the pill, it does its job continuously with no need for daily reminders (FDA, 2018).
About one out of every five people who use the implant don’t have a period, so there’s a chance it will stop your period. This change to your menstrual flow can happen within three months of getting the implant and may persist for as long as the device lasts (FDA, 2018).
Changes to bleeding patterns and your menstrual cycle aren’t the only side effects of the implant. Some of these implants’ most common side effects are headaches, vaginitis, weight gain, acne, breast pain, abdominal discomfort, and sore throat (FDA, 2018).
The contraceptive shot (brand name Depo-Provera) contains a different form of progesterone. You need to get an injection every three months to prevent pregnancy. The contraceptive shot is an intramuscular (IM) shot, which means a healthcare provider needs to inject it into the muscle of your glutes or your arm (FDA, 2016).
Like the contraceptive implant, you can get the shot and forget about it (for three months). But unlike the implant, which lasts for three years, you need to get the shot more frequently and on time to ensure it’s as effective as possible. This requires frequent visits to a healthcare provider.
The contraceptive shot can change your period, but that doesn’t mean it will make it stop. Depo-Provera can cause your period to stop, but you may also have spotting or irregular bleeding. In clinical trials, 55% of women using Depo-Provera for 12 months reported that their period had stopped. After two years, that number rose to 68% of women (FDA, 2016).
The most common side effects of Depo-Provera include weight gain, headaches, nervousness, abdominal discomfort, dizziness, and a decreased libido (FDA, 2016).
Non-hormonal birth control options
Several brand names of hormonal IUDs use a progestin called levonorgestrel to prevent pregnancy.
An IUD is a small, T-shaped device inserted into your uterus through your cervix by a healthcare provider. Once you get the hormonal IUD placed, it works for up to five years—and you don’t need to remember to do anything daily (Lanzola, 2022).
The most common side effects of the hormonal IUD that uses levonorgestrel are changes in menstrual bleeding, headache or migraine, abdominal pain, discharge, and vaginal inflammation.
Though changes in bleeding are common with the hormonal IUD, it may not make your period stop. Roughly 44% of hormonal IUD users reported that their period had stopped at six months of use, and 50% reported this at 12 and 24 months of use (Pocius, 2021).
There’s also a copper IUD available, which does not release hormones and will not stop your period.
Choosing the best option
If you currently take birth control pills, you may be able to simply take them continuously to stop your period. If you prefer not to have to take a pill every day, it may be worth considering one of the longer-acting hormonal birth control methods.
Talk to your healthcare provider about your contraceptive and menstrual cycle goals and any concerns you may have. Together, you can find an option that’s right for you.
- Bansode, O. M., Sarao, M. S., & Cooper, D. B. (2021). Contraception. StatPearls. Retrieved Aug. 31, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK536949/
- Cooper, D. B. & Mahdy, H. (2022). Oral contraceptive pills. StatPearls. Retrieved Aug. 31, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430882/
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (2016). DEPO-PROVERA CI (medroxyprogesterone acetate) label. Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/020246s058lbl.pdf
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (2018). NEXPLANON (etonogestrel) label. Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2019/021529s018lbl.pdf
- Hillard, P. A. (2014). Menstrual suppression: current perspectives. International Journal of Women’s Health, 6, 631–637. doi:10.2147/IJWH.S46680. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25018654
- Lanzola, E. L. & Ketvertis, K. (2022). Intrauterine device. StatPearls. Retrieved Aug. 31, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557403/
- MacGregor, E. A. & Guillebaud, J. (2018). The 7-day contraceptive hormone-free interval should be consigned to history. BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health, 44(3), 214-220. doi:10.1136/bmjsrh-2017-200036. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29945924/
- Pocius, K. D. & Bartz, D. A. (2021). Intrauterine contraception: management of side effects and complications. UpToDate. Retrieved Sep. 22, 2021 from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/intrauterine-contraception-management-of-side-effects-and-complications
- Schaumberg, M. A., Emmerton, L. M., Jenkins, D. G., et al. (2018). Use of oral contraceptives to Manipulate menstruation in young, physically active women. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 13(1), 82-87. doi:10.1123/ijspp.2016-0689. Retrieved from https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/ijspp/13/1/article-p82.xml
- UpToDate. (n.d.) Contraceptive vaginal ring (ethinyl estradiol and etonogestrel [monthly, NuvaRing, EluRyng]): drug information. Retrieved Sep. 22, 2021 from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/contraceptive-vaginal-ring-ethinyl-estradiol-and-etonogestrel-monthly-nuvaring-eluryng-drug-information
Dr. Chimene Richa is a board-certified Ophthalmologist and Senior Medical Writer/Reviewer at Ro.