Stopping or delaying a period is sometimes called menstrual suppression. People sometimes use drugs to stop periods or control their cycles. There are many reasons to want to suppress periods, like avoiding pain, cost, or inconvenience. Others, like trans men and non-binary people, want to suppress periods because they cause dysphoria.
The basics of bleeding and suppression
Menstruation is also called 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*. Periods stop during pregnancy. They come back a few weeks after the pregnancy, or a few months later when there is breastfeeding.
Some people believe that you can delay your period by eating certain things, but there is no proof of this. The only proven way to stop or delay periods is with hormonal birth control.
*Not everyone is comfortable with the word vagina to identify a part of their body. Some people might use the word front hole. We’ll use vagina is this page for clarity’s sake. You can also check our FAQ on how trans and non-binary people can stop monthly bleeding.
Why do people want to delay or stop periods?
Some people don’t like having periods. Because of this, sometimes people try to delay or stop their periods. People might also try to delay their period for just a few days, for things like vacations.
This can be for a lot of reasons, including:
- Pain or other uncomfortable symptoms
- Blood loss
- The cost of pads, tampons, or other period supplies
- Gender dysphoria
- An important event
The pill, patch, or ring
For birth control, people use the pill, patch, or ring on a four-week cycle. They follow their routine for 3 weeks and then for 1 week they either stop or use a placebo pill. This is when the period happens.
Extended-cycle pills like Seasonale give you twelve weeks of hormones and one week of placebo pills. This means you’d have your period once every three months.
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 the three weeks of hormones you start the next pack or patch. You can stack either regular pills or extended-cycle pills. Extended-cycle pills give you twelve weeks of hormones.
- For the ring, you can leave it in for four weeks instead of three, then start a new one right away.
You can do this just once, if you want to skip your period for an important event. You can also do this on the long-run. When you start doing this, you might have some unpredictable bleeding in the first few months, as your body adjusts. This is when you bleed irregularly from the vagina, and it’s called break through bleeding or spotting.
The hormonal IUD or the injection
The hormonal IUD and the birth control injection both use progesterone to prevent pregnancy. Progesterone thins the lining of the uterus, and many people’s periods get lighter or stop completely when they use these forms of birth control.
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 there is more research going on. However, birth control itself can have side effects and risks. For example, the pill, patch, and ring can slightly increase the risk of blood clots. Those risks are the same if they’re used to stop periods or just for birth control. 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, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor or a nurse about your options! This way you can make sure that your plan works for your health and body.