Menstrual suppression is another word for stopping or delaying a period. People sometimes use birth control drugs to stop periods or control their cycles. There are many reasons to want to stop periods, like cost, inconvenience, or avoiding pain. Trans men and non-binary people might also want to stop periods because they can cause dysphoria
The basics of bleeding and suppression
Menstruation is also called a period, cycle, or monthly bleeding. It’s when a uterus sheds the lining that has been growing inside it. This makes blood flow out of the vagina or front hole. Periods stop during pregnancy. They come back a few weeks after the pregnancy, or a few months later if the person breastfeeds or chestfeeds.
Some people believe that you can delay your period by eating certain things. But there’s no proof of this. The only proven way to stop or delay periods is with hormonal birth control.
Why do people want to delay or stop periods?
Some people don’t like having periods. Because of this, sometimes people try to reduce the frequency or stop their periods. People might also try to delay their period for a few days, for things like vacations.
This can be for a lot of reasons, including:
- A health condition that makes periods worse
- Pain or other uncomfortable symptoms
- Blood loss
- The cost of pads, tampons, or other period supplies
- Gender dysphoria
- An event
The pill, patch, or ring
People can use the pill, patch, or ring on a four-week cycle as birth control. They follow their routine for 3 weeks and then for 1 week they either stop or use a placebo. During this week you will get a “withdrawal bleed”. They can feel and look the same as your period, but they are different. A withdrawal bleed is the body’s reaction to not having the same level of hormones as when they are taking their birth control as opposed to a monthly cycle.
Extended-cycle pills like Seasonale give you twelve weeks of hormones: estrogen and progesterone. Then you get one week of placebo pills. This means you’d have a withdrawal bleed once every three months. Using extended-cycle pills can reduce the risk of breakthrough bleeding or spotting between withdrawal bleeds. This is when you bleed irregularly or unexpectedly. It is usually lighter than a typical period or withdrawal bleed.
You can stop your periods by continually using the pill, patch, or ring, without taking a hormone-free week. Some people call this “stacking”.
- For the pill and patch, as soon as you’re finished with the three weeks of hormones you start the next pack or patch.
- For extended-cycle pills, as soon as you’re finished with the twelve weeks of hormones you start the next pack.
- For the ring, you can leave it in for four weeks instead of three, then start a new one right away.
“Extended use” is when you want to skip or delay your period for an event. “Continuous use” is when you stop your period long-term. When you start doing this, you might have some spotting in the first few months, as your body adjusts.
The hormonal IUD or the injection
The hormonal IUD and the birth control injection use progesterone to prevent pregnancy. Progesterone thins the lining of the uterus. Many people who use these forms of birth control get lighter periods or their periods stop completely.
If you use these, it’s also possible that your period won’t change at all. It depends on your body.
Is it safe to delay or stop periods?
There are no known health risks to not having your period, although research is still ongoing. But, birth control itself can have side effects and risks. For example, the pill, patch, and ring can slightly increase the risk of blood clots. These risks are the same if you use birth control to stop periods or pregnancy. If you stop your periods, blood will not keep “building up” inside you.
There are no major health benefits to not having your periods either. Some people who have heavy periods might avoid anemia by suppressing them. For people who sometimes forget to take their pill, it can lower the risk of pregnancy. Some people like using their periods to check if they’re pregnant, and wouldn’t want to suppress it. It’s a personal choice!
If you want to stop your periods, you can talk to a doctor or a nurse about your options. This way, you can find a plan that works for your health and body.