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How to Delay Your Period - Naturally vs. Medically

Here's the evidence on which methods actually work.

  • Mary Walsh
    By: Mary Walsh
    Reviewed By: Julie Lamonoff, CNM, OBGYN-NP
    Updated:

Know your period is coming soon? Let's say you have a special occasion or a vacation to plan for (though sadly, COVID-19 has changed many people's travel plans). Learn which methods can work to delay your period, whether they be natural methods or with medicine, so you can feel more in control.

Are you hoping for a natural way to skip your periods? You might be out of luck. But we'll let you know more about them later so you can decide for yourself.

If you want to try the most popular and reliable way, see if you're eligible for birth control to delay your period from Pill Club for $0.

Ways to delay your period

Many women want to postpone their periods for a couple of days or a week. Ideally, there'd be a quick fix to tell your body to hold off for a second and wait on the whole menstruation thing. But finding a natural method to delay your period, like eating special foods or drinking apple cider vinegar, is more of a hopeless pursuit.

You should know that the most reliable way to delay your period is with medicine. You can use birth control pills to keep your period from coming, whether you want to postpone it for a week or skip it entirely. To get the medicine, you'd need to ask your doctor for a prescription.

Can you delay your periods naturally—without pills?

If you are looking to avoid taking pills to delay your period, there is yet to be any conclusive evidence on natural remedies. However, we took a look at some of the common natural suggestions to give you more context.

Do specific foods work to delay your period?

You may have heard certain foods can delay your period. Some websites point to things like lemons because of vitamin C, or bananas because of potassium, or some spicy food. Although some of these ingredients are good or can benefit a balanced diet, it does not affect your period timing.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has shown that while diet can be relevant to a woman's period, there is no research on lemons, bananas, spicy food, or any other food as a way to delay a period.

The truth on apple cider vinegar and your period

People may tout all kinds of health benefits of apple cider vinegar, but the truth is, there isn't enough medical evidence to support them. You may have even heard that apple cider vinegar could possibly help to delay periods.

However, similar to diet choices, there is no research confirming that apple cider vinegar has any effect on your period.

Can exercise delay periods?

Exercise, of course, has many benefits, one of which is to subside cramps and other period pains, but it does not affect the timing of your period.

It is also commonly known that for some women, excessive exercise or low-calorie intake can altogether skip their period, but this causes other health problems and is not advised to delay your period.

Which medicines can prevent or delay your period?

The surest way you can prevent or delay your period is to actually skip your period by taking the birth control pill, though you'll need to plan ahead as it takes time for your body to get used to the pill . You would need to use the combined birth control pill, which combines two hormones, progestin and estrogen, to delay (skip) your period.

Can you use Ibuprofen to delay your period?

Anecdotally you might have heard that Ibuprofen can delay your period. However, the amount of ibuprofen required to delay your period is significant and far past the recommended amount. That's why the Cleveland Clinic doesn't advise their patients to try this on their own.

Delaying your period with birth control pills

If you are currently on some type of birth control pill, you may have the ability to limit, skip, or delay your period. Before you skip it altogether, though, it is a good idea to check with your doctor. You may also want to check the ingredients of your birth control, as a monophasic pill (meaning each active pill has the same amount of estrogen and progestin) tends to have less breakthrough bleeding than a multi-phasic pill (meaning the active pill contains 2 or 3 different combinations of estrogen and progestin). This way, if you are on the pill, you can better understand how much breakthrough bleeding or spotting you might have, should you decide to skip your period. Some providers strongly recommend against using a multi-phasic pill to skip your period.

If you are on a birth control pack with 21 pills:

Finish the pack as you normally would, but instead of taking placebo pills, start your next pack immediately. (You may want to check whether your pill is monophasic or multiphasic, as multiphasic tends to have more breakthrough bleeding).

If you are on a birth control pack with 28 pills:

Finish the pack as you normally would, but instead of taking placebo pills, start your next pack immediately. (You may want to check whether your pill is monophasic or multiphasic, as multiphasic tends to have more breakthrough bleeding).

Looking to skip more than one period?

Ask your doctor about a pill that is a continuous birth control (CBC) option. This will allow you to skip multiple periods in a row. Often they are options to let you skip up to three months, and in some cases longer.

If you are using a ring:

NuvaRing and Annovera are examples of vaginal birth control rings. You can simply use your ring as you normally would up to four weeks, and immediately put in your next ring instead of waiting. When you are ready to have your period again simply take out the ring to get your next period.

If you are using an IUD, implant, or another method of birth control:

Many birth control methods like these will lighten or stop your period. Talk to your doctor if you are interested in a method that you can delay or skip periods.

Know that depending on the type of birth control you are on, you may experience more spotting or breakthrough bleeding between skipping periods. Also, if you are interested in switching from one birth control to another for more options to delay your period, contact your doctor.

Is there anything bad about using birth control pills to skip my period?

There is nothing bad or harmful about using birth control pills to delay or skip your period, though it's a good idea to talk to your doctor. And for those who are looking to skip multiple periods, there are different options for you.*

*Note: If you're not taking birth control pills and are missing periods, you should consider asking your doctor about it. The Mayo Clinic recommends seeing your doctor if you've missed 3 menstrual periods in a row.

Skipping or delaying your period is not harmful. Some doctors even see skipping periods as beneficial, allowing women to avoid pain or the potential cost of a period. Other research has shown skipping multiple periods using birth control can actually limit your likelihood to develop certain cancers like ovarian cancer.

Given all this information, we hope you feel confident about choosing the best way for you to delay or skip your period.

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