Is it possible to interrupt a period that has already started?
January 19, 2013 10:04 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to interrupt a period that has already started?

My period started today (Saturday).

If it's at all possible, I would really really like to not have it (either a pause or a full stop), on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. You are not my doctor, but unfortunately the soonest I can talk to him is Monday, so in the meantime I would be grateful to know:

1. If stopping an already-underway period is even possible
2. If it IS possible, what's the likelihood that I'll need a new prescription, or how likely it is that I'll be able to cull the needed elements can be culled from my current medicine cabinet, which includes a brand-new pack of NeoCon birth control pills (1 mg of norethindrone and 0.035 mg of ethinyl estradiol), Prometrium (progesterone-only) pills and Aygestin (norethindrone acetate-only) pills, and a Plan B one-step (1.5 mg of levonorgestrel).

If there's really nothing that can be done, I'd like to know now so I can cancel my plans sooner rather than later. It would also be a big relief to know how likely it is that I'll be able to tackle this with the medications already on-hand, which would be worth balancing from a time/expense perspective with the hassle of rescheduling.

Finally, if it would make sense for me to start whatever-the-approach-is before Monday, I can probably make it to urgent care or Planned Parenthood this weekend...but again, I'd hate to go through that if there's really no option anyway.

Thank you SO MUCH for any insight you can provide.
posted by argonauta to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have never heard of a foolproof way to do this, and any kind of treatment anyone here would suggest would probably be best done under medical supervision. I suggest getting on the phone with Planned Parenthood to see if an appointment is possible. I wouldn't imagine a general (non-OB-GYN) urgent care would be helpful at all.

I say "foolproof" because I have known people to start taking their birth control pills in an effort to do this. Sometimes works and sometimes creates a super, super long light period, so instead of one week of a period they get 3 weeks of spotting.

Hope that is helpful; sorry that this is timed so poorly for you!
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:14 AM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

My first thought is that it's probably possible, but that (ah, as the young rope-ride has already noted) you're just as likely to make it worse as you are to make it better. Hormonally-based body functions are dynamic, self-regulating, feedback-looping systems. Maybe you nudge it the right direction -- maybe you nudge it the wrong direction.

If you were already on bc pills, it might make sense to skip the inert week and go straight to the next week of hormone containing pills. Is that what the "brand new pack" is? Pills you're already on?
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 10:22 AM on January 19, 2013

No. Even if you get it to slow down, it will not stop.

If ideas for doing you plans despite your period would be acceptable (for ex if you need to go swimming, wear a tampon), share what you're trying to do and maybe there will be some ideas of how you can still do it despite your period.
posted by DoubleLune at 10:42 AM on January 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

In my experience, there is no reliable way to do this. I even asked my gynecologist once, when I was in a 'desperate' (read: inconvenient, long distance boyfriend visiting) situation and she said there was nothing I could really do.

As DoubleLune suggested, perhaps if you tell us what kind of plans you have Monday, we could make suggestions as to what might work for you- maybe you don't have to cancel after all.
posted by rachaelfaith at 10:53 AM on January 19, 2013

Yeah, once it starts I don't see a way to stop it that doesn't run a high risk of infection. I guess you could go on for a D&C but that would probably be overkill.
posted by dawkins_7 at 10:54 AM on January 19, 2013

The only thing I've heard that works is getting a Depo-Provera shot, but usually only if you're already on it.
posted by fiercekitten at 11:07 AM on January 19, 2013

Menstrual extraction is a method that is used by many competitive female athletes who receive untimely visits from Aunt Flo. The difficulty in this procedure, however, is finding the equipment and like-minded women to assist.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:08 AM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

No idea where you'd find a provider outside a women's group in the 1970s, but menstrual extraction is a thing.
posted by animalrainbow at 11:08 AM on January 19, 2013

I took Tranexamic Acid (available over the counter in the UK, not sure about the US) to slow down a really heavy period and it stopped completely within a couple of days. May be worth a try?
posted by cilantro at 11:18 AM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

In my experience, no. The chances of stopping the period significantly decrease once bleeding has started, and the chances of stomach problems and prolonged bleeding increase upon introducing a buncha hormones
posted by sm1tten at 11:22 AM on January 19, 2013

I knew a woman who said she had taught herself to close her cervix to temporarily stop the flow but I can't personally confirm that's possible, and that might be a bit soon to train your muscles to do that.

I've heard of a diaphragm being used for very temporary stopping purposes.
posted by yohko at 11:46 AM on January 19, 2013

Are you currently on birth control? In my experience, my period will stop within a day or two of restarting active pills, even if I do it 'early' (i.e. don't wait the full week), and I have received confirmation from my doctor that this is fine to do from a contraception perspective (i.e. does not mess up the effectiveness - it's fine to wait LESS than 1 week between active pills, but not MORE). However, everyone's body is different, so this might or might not work for you. I would be more wary if you are not currently on any sort of birth control.
posted by rainbowbrite at 11:58 AM on January 19, 2013

Yup, starting a new pill packet is your best bet. Not guaranteed, but it migt work.
posted by Violet Hour at 2:10 PM on January 19, 2013

Yes. It's called norethisterone, and, for as long as you're taking it, it stops it.

It takes a couple of days to kick in, but you should notice a difference right away. And when you stop taking it, it takes a few days, then it might be a bit heavier, but it'll all even out.

You can get it prescribed in the US, apparently, but don't take my word for it, because I'm in the UK.

But when I needed it, it was there.
posted by Katemonkey at 4:27 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just recently took a course of Primolut N (norethisterone 5mg) to delay a period and it worked wonderfully. Though I took it about a day before my period was due to start, my GP told me that if I took it after my period had started, it should lighten the period and may still stop it altogether after a day or two. Although there is no guarantee that the drug will stop your period, it might be worth giving it a try. I did get a little nausea while on the tablets for the first couple of days, but after that I was fine. My next period was also a fair bit lighter than usual (but it also lasted a couple of days longer).
posted by Defying Gravity at 5:43 PM on January 19, 2013

The only time my period stopped before it was supposed to was when I came down with the flu.
posted by brujita at 9:29 PM on January 19, 2013

I just wanted to thank everyone for their great input. I rescheduled the plans, but am truly fascinated to learn more about the science involved, and definitely to be prepared if I'm ever in this situation again.

Thank you!
posted by argonauta at 4:07 PM on January 23, 2013

If you do not have a diaphragm as yohko suggests above, the Instead cup was basically made for this purpose. You can't, um, feel it.
posted by skbw at 5:20 PM on March 23, 2013

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