How can you shorten or stop your periods?
There are many reasons why you may want to stop or shorten your periods. If you have painful, long or irregular periods, bringing them under control can improve your quality of life.
If you have very heavy, painful or irregular periods, it’s important to talk to your GP. This can be a sign of some medical conditions that may need treatment.
Are there treatments to shorten periods?
If you want shorter periods, you have a few options.
Hormonal birth control like the combined pill, patch or ring can often help make your periods shorter. It can also make your periods more regular if you struggle with irregular periods.1
Tranexamic acid is a medication used to reduce heavy bleeding during your periods. Some studies have found that along with reducing bleeding, tranexamic acid can also make your periods shorter.2
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin have also been shown to reduce heavy menstrual bleeding.3
Are there treatments to help stop periods?
If you want to stop your periods altogether, progesterone-only contraception can sometimes help.4, 5 Some progesterone-only options include the mini pill, the implant, the injection and the IUS (intrauterine system).
There are also surgical options to stop your periods, such as a hysterectomy. This is a procedure where your uterus is removed. It comes with significant risks, and you should ask your GP to refer you to a specialist if you are considering it.6
Sometimes, lifestyle changes can help make your periods shorter. Some people report having sex or masturbating can make their periods end more quickly. Contractions of the uterus during orgasm could help blood exit through the vagina more quickly, but there isn’t enough research to be sure.
Factors such as stress, exercise and BMI can affect your periods. So living a healthy lifestyle and avoiding stress may help your periods become more regular and less heavy or painful.7
There is no way to safely stop your periods altogether without medical treatment.
Can you delay your period?
Sometimes your period is due at the time of an important event, and you may want to delay it.
Norethisterone is a progesterone-only contraception pill that can be taken to delay your period. You start taking it a few days before your period is due, and your period will arrive a few days after you stop taking the medication.8
If you are already taking the combined contraceptive pill, you can delay your period by skipping the days with placebo pills or without pills. Just go straight to taking the next active pill.
If you take a phasic contraceptive pill, where the dose of hormones is different with each pill, you should speak to your pharmacist for advice about delaying your period with this medication.8
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- Heavy periods. nhs.uk. Published October 23, 2017. Accessed February 28, 2023. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heavy-periods/
- Leminen H, Hurskainen R. Tranexamic acid for the treatment of heavy menstrual bleeding: efficacy and safety. Int J Womens Health. 2012;4:413-421. doi:10.2147/IJWH.S13840
- Role of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs in Gynecology - PMC. Accessed February 28, 2023. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4036657/
- Intrauterine system (IUS). nhs.uk. Published December 21, 2017. Accessed January 14, 2021. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/ius-intrauterine-system/
- The progestogen-only pill. nhs.uk. Published December 21, 2017. Accessed October 5, 2020. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/the-pill-progestogen-only/
- Hysterectomy - Why it’s necessary. nhs.uk. Published October 3, 2018. Accessed February 28, 2023. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hysterectomy/why-its-done/
- Menstrual cycle length and modern living: a review - PMC. Accessed February 28, 2023.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8631146/
- How can I delay my period? nhs.uk. Published June 27, 2018. Accessed February 28, 2023.https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/travel-health/how-can-i-delay-my-period/
Reviewed by: Mital Thakrar
Review date: April 2023
Next review: April 2026