Can you actually induce a period?

Ever wish you could control your period? Well, according to experts, it may be possible.

There are so many reasons for wanting to induce a period. 

Maybe you want it to be over and done with before a holiday or important event, perhaps your cycle is irregular and hard to manage, maybe you are overdue, and it’s causing you to become anxious, or you might just be fed up with weeks of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and simply just want to speed up the inevitable.

Whatever the reason, it is perfectly normal for us to want control over our monthly cycles. 

After all, with PMS and post-menstrual syndrome, periods take up a huge amount of our lives.

Reasons for a delayed period

A typical menstrual cycle lasts between 21 to 35 days.

‘However, there is a large variation with some women bleeding more often, and some having longer gaps between periods,’ Dr Deborah Lee from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy tells Metro.co.uk.

‘The normal range includes having a menstrual cycle that lasts between 21 – 35 days. If your cycle is shorter or longer than this, see your GP.’

And there are many reasons our periods could be delayed or missing altogether, she adds.

‘When periods first start, they are often irregular for the first few years, but eventually settle into some sort of a rhythmical pattern,’ Dr Deborah explains. 

‘Women will get a feel for their cycle and know what is normal for them.

‘Some women have irregular cycles and may even skip periods. So long as you know you are not pregnant, it’s safe to wait until you have missed three periods before seeing your doctor.

‘Some common causes for missed periods include stress, weight loss, weight gain, doing too much exercise, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and menopause.’

Other causes include:

  • anatomical differences, including those that can cause a vaginal blockage or the absence of a vagina or cervix
  • injury to the reproductive organs, such as Asherman syndrome or cervical stenosis
  • PCOS
  • elevated levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
  • hyperprolactinemia, or having high levels of the hormone prolactin
  • pituitary gland issues

If your period hasn’t come for over six months, it’s possible you may have something called amenorrhea.

It can be caused by the following:

  • pregnancy
  • stress
  • low or high body weight
  • polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • hormonal contraceptives
  • chronic conditions such as diabetes or celiac disease
  • certain acute illnesses
  • thyroid issues, such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
  • hormonal issues, such as those caused by the pituitary gland or hypothalamus
  • menopause
  • tumours affecting the ovaries or pituitary gland
  • chronic ovulation

How to induce a period

‘Yes, it is possible to induce a period, but some methods are more effective than others,’ says pharmacist Abbas Kanani. 

‘For example, increasing levels of estrogen in the body can stimulate uterine contractions, which in turn can prompt bleeding.’

Substances that can help induce a period are called emmenagogues. 

‘Be aware that some emmenagogues are also abortifacients, which is a substance that can cause miscarriages in pregnancy,’ Healthline warns.

Exercise 

According to Abbas, moderate exercise may help with releasing muscle tension and could encourage a period to start earlier.

Mood

‘Stress can play havoc with our hormones and can be the reason for late, absent, shorter and longer periods due to increased cortisol levels,’ explains Abbas.

‘Meditation, yoga and pilates can all help with reducing stress and anxiety,’ they suggest.

Diet

Consuming high doses of vitamin C found in citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables may help boost estrogen levels whilst reducing progesterone levels, Abbas says.

This causes the breakdown of the uterine walls, leading to an early period. 

Warmth

‘Using a hot water bottle around your due date may also encourage a period to start because the warmth can relax tight muscles, increase blood flow, reduce inflammation and improve blood sugar,’ adds Abbas.

A warm bath could also help.

Orgasms

‘Activities that help the cervix to dilate and uterus to shed its lining include sex and orgasm,’ says Abbas. 

‘A combination of uterine contractions and the hormones produced during sexual activity can encourage a period to start earlier.’

Hormonal medications

‘It is possible to induce uterine bleeding,’ says Dr Deborah. ‘This is often done in gynaecology by giving five days of progesterone tablets.

‘When this is discontinued, within a few days, you will bleed. Day one of bleeding can be taken as the first day of the cycle. This is used for people starting fertility treatments.’

Is it safe to induce your period? 

‘Inducing uterine bleeding using progesterone as described above is safe, so long as there is no chance of pregnancy,’ says Dr Deborah. 

‘This means not having had unprotected sex for a minimum of 14 days, followed by a negative pregnancy test.

‘The other herbal and dietary methods listed above are not dangerous but are unlikely to work.’

However, care should be taken when it comes to attempting to induce a period on a regular basis.

‘Your cycle is designed to allow your uterus to grow and shed in a healthy, controlled way,’ adds Dr Gareth Nye.

‘Through inducing early periods, you are speeding up this natural process which may lead to dysfunction uterine tissue growing in the next cycle, particularly if this is done for long periods.’

While most methods should not present any risk to healthy adults, Abbas explains that treatments such as the contraceptive pill are not always suitable for everyone and can come with side effects.

It’s always advisable to speak to a medical professional if considering inducing a period.

‘If you have period problems, including worrying about your cycle and the fact your periods are not regular, see your GP or visit your local sexual health clinic, and discuss your options,’ adds Dr Deborah.

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