Menstrual Cycle Problem
July 18, 2006 2:49 PM   Subscribe

Menstrual-cycle Filter: What methods are available to delay...

My cycle is very regular. I expect, this month, my period to coincide with a very important date next week. While for most women that would be fine, I am unfortunately blessed with killer cramps and other menstrual symptoms that make it nearly impossible for me to function normally. Generally, I must take a slew of pain killers to ward off the pain, while lying on a heating pad (and even then, I feel like crap). Indeed, my period symptoms have interfered detrimentally with very important dates in the past (weddings, exams, interviews). I simply cannot take that chance this time.

What methods are available to delay the onset of your period, with a preference for natural means, such as diet changes? Although I know exercise may work to delay a period for some women, it will not work out for me for this particular week due to time constrictions. Any experience with this or suggestions are highly appreciated.
posted by orangeshoe to Health & Fitness (29 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Other than anorexia or pregnancy, I don't know of any "natural" ways to delay a menstrual cycle. You could possibly set it to a different date eventually and gradually if you hang around women a lot, or live with women. Eventually, you will all start your period around the same time.

There are hormonal ways to delay a period for an important event.
Information here
posted by LoriFLA at 2:56 PM on July 18, 2006

Oh my gosh sorry, wrong link. Look here.
posted by LoriFLA at 2:56 PM on July 18, 2006

It might be easier to try to speed it up, actually. I can't say it was hugely effective for me when I tried it, but some combination of black cohosh and cramp bark is what seems to be recommended. I found a mix called "Muscle Calm" from Nature's Apothecary, in the PMS solutions aisle at the local hippie co-op.

Googling for natural abortifacients and emmenogogues might be a good start for suggestions. I don't know enough to steer you in the right direction -- I usually just google a ton and find the common denominators.

If you're seriously desperate and have midwifey friends, the links that serazin posted to the front page the other day on menstrual extraction might be useful.
posted by occhiblu at 2:58 PM on July 18, 2006

(To clarify: I suggest looking for abortifacients because they're designed to force the uterus to expel what's in it, not because I think you're pregnant.)
posted by occhiblu at 2:59 PM on July 18, 2006

i've manipulated my birth control to change my cycle earlier or later, but I don't know if you want to start that just to prevent your period for a couple days.
posted by Kellydamnit at 2:59 PM on July 18, 2006

This may not be very helpful for your immediate problem, but for a longer-term solution you may want to look into the pill. Any woman who is on the pill knows that a period can be skipped or pushed back a week or so by just continuing to take the active pills during the inactive-pill week.

While the medical advisability of that strategy is out of my league--anyone?--I've known many a woman to use that strategy for just what you're talking about, as well as vacations to see the long-distance S/O that happen to fall on period days.

Furthermore, they market a pill that suppresses all menstruation but 4 times a year. Not half (quarter) bad.
posted by jckll at 3:02 PM on July 18, 2006

(There was a discussion about using BC to skip your period previously.)
posted by occhiblu at 3:05 PM on July 18, 2006

I agree that, for a short-term solution, it might be easier to hurry up your period rather than put it off. If you can find a store in your area that carries menstrual cups such as the DivaCup or the Keeper, you might want to consider using them. I heard some anecdotal evidence that they can hasten the onset of your period, and I know from using mine that my period comes about two days earlier when I use the cup.

I'm going to use that this fall, actually, when I get married. I accidentally planned my wedding for the week that I get my period, which sucks. Hopefully I can use my DivaCup and get the worst of it over with before the big day.

If the idea of a menstrual cup makes you squeamish, maybe you can get some of those stick-on hot pads from the store and just keep popping Midol and drinking water. Good luck!
posted by christinetheslp at 3:11 PM on July 18, 2006

Getting yourself below 10% body fat may do the trick. Not recommended, but effective.
posted by sourwookie at 3:15 PM on July 18, 2006

I don't know how much time you have between now and the big event, but I would find some woman with a period a week to 14 days before yours (but hasn't occured this month yet). Hang out with her at least 8 hours a day for a few days. Move in with her. This is almost guaranteed to mess with your schedule (as my mom complains about every time I visit for the holidays...)
posted by muddgirl at 3:15 PM on July 18, 2006

Call your gynecologist. There are hormonal ways to manipulate timing of periods--I think inducing one early is more common than delaying, but I'm not sure. Anyway, s/he can help you find something safer and more effective than taking natural 'abortifacients.' Natural does not necessarily equal better or safer.
posted by needs more cowbell at 3:16 PM on July 18, 2006

also, in the long run, sometimes the pill makes them more bearable. especially seasonale because they happen less.
posted by amethysts at 3:20 PM on July 18, 2006

Once you've ovulated, I don't think there's any way to delay or hasten your period naturally (although stress can definitely cause a delay in ovulation, which will therefore delay your period). If you want to know more about your menstrual cycle, I highly recommend the book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility.

As others have mentioned, there are a number of herbs that will supposedly delay your period and many chemicals and hormones which will definitely delay your period, but I'm not sure if anything can be done when you're already in the cycle you want to affect.

I think your best bet might be to see a doctor to treat your symptoms so you might be able to function normally next week.
posted by lynda at 3:50 PM on July 18, 2006

If you are on the pill, your menstrual cycle is artificial anyway, and can be put "on hold" indefinitely.

When the pill first came out, the drug manufacturers decided to create an 'off week' in the dosage cycle as the pill was revolutionary at the time, and caused a great deal of controversy upon its arrival. Upsetting the perceived natural cycle of a women by doing away with the period altogether would have exasperated the already intense public debate.

If you skip the 'off week' you'll simply stop having artificial periods. No pain, and your natural menstrual cycle will be restored in a matter of weeks once you stop taking the pill, with no ill effects.

This blew my mind when I first heard it on NPR.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 3:54 PM on July 18, 2006

Really, talk to your doctor or gyno before you start skipping periods on the pill. There's no reason not to, and if they caution you against it, they can give better reasons than "it's just a bad idea."

The Jesse Helms - If I recall, when the Pill was first introduced, the dosage varied throughout the cycle. Skipping periods had very bad effects. Now, dosages are more regular, and many doctors actually reccommend that their patients skip periods in some circumstances. Note: DOCTORS should be involved in this discussion, not just random people on the internet.
posted by muddgirl at 4:03 PM on July 18, 2006

muddgirl, there are multiple sorts of pill. Some [biphasic and triphasic] do have dosages that vary throughout the cycle, and some [monophasic] have a constant amount of hormones in every pill, throughout the month. It's the latter that can be used to skip periods - they act in the same way as Seasonale [and, though I may be incorrect, the first formulations of the Pill.] The former tend to have lower hormone dosages overall, but they're designed around the period-every-month - women who tried to use them to skip periods would probably experience spotting and stuff like that.

But yeah, while skipping periods with the pill or other sorts of hormonal birth control is completely possible, you do want your gynecologist involved. [They can help you find the right formulation, which is definitely important.]
posted by ubersturm at 4:13 PM on July 18, 2006

Progesterone supplements can delay the onset of your period without having to go on the pill. Ask your gyno if she'll prescribe you a few to use between now and next week. Note: These supplements are generally used to aid in conception, so if you haven't ovulated yet this cycle, be extra careful. But if your period's due next week you've probably already ovulated.
posted by boomchicka at 4:25 PM on July 18, 2006

Everyone has been mentioning birth control as an option for delaying your period, (and I've regularly used it to do so with no consequence as far as I can tell) but I don't think anyone has pointed out one more aspect that would greatly benefit you: birth control's ability to reduce or eliminate cramps.

Hormonal birth control can for some women be very efficient at treating cramps. In fact, that was largely the reason I went on birth control, since I was prone to get cramps so severe I couldn't walk (and I have an incredibly high pain tolerence). Since the cramps sound like they are more the crux of your problem than the period itself, this is something you should certainly look into.

And as a side note on hormonal birth control, I recommend looking into Ortho Evra birth control patches. They're once-a-week, discreet, and infinitely easier to remember than the pill.
posted by internet!Hannah at 4:26 PM on July 18, 2006

My girlfriend suffered from intense cramps during her period and painful ovarian cysts. This is a genetic thing. She has a long family history of painful mensturation and reproductive tract cancers, especially ovarian cancer, which has claimed the lives of several of her relatives. Her doctor recommended that she skip roughly two out of every three periods. This supposedly reduces the chance of ovarian cancer significantly and gives the added benefit of less frequent and less intense menses. When the timing is convienent, every three months or so, she chooses a week, and on the sunday stops taking her pill, resuming the next sunday.

The rationale I was given for this is that as counterintuitive as it may seem, this regimine is healthy because it normalizes hormone levels. The theory goes that historically, as far as genetics is concerned, women who successfully reproduced and had their genes passed on spent a lot of time pregnant. With modern contraception, women have many more periods because they are pregnant far less often (i.e. not constantly). Therefore, they have to ovulate and regenerate their uterine lining far more than their bodies have evolved to cope with, thus leading to more reproductive system cancers in young women. Once that was explained to me, I was pretty convinced that baring evidence to the contrary, skipping a few periods should be healthy. As far as I am concerned, if my girlfriend and her doctor think that this is an effective way for her to have a better quality of life and less chance of cancer, I'm all for it.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 4:46 PM on July 18, 2006

Guys, the poster's asking about skipping this period. We've already had a discussion about skipping periods in general, and that discussion is still open.
posted by occhiblu at 5:09 PM on July 18, 2006

If your important date is at least two weeks away, you can, with the help of your doctor, force an early cycle with progesterone withdrawal. You'd be given either an injection or a short course of progesterone in pill form, maybe five or seven days worth, and after you finish, your period will arrive in one or two more days. If you ask your doctor, and make her aware of your problem, sometimes you can get a prescription with enough pills to do it again without having to visit the clinic a second time.

Although, like boomchicka mentions above, this method is used to assist women trying to conceive, it does so by imitating the hormonal activity that would naturally occur when you ovulate, therefore artificially regulating the menstrual cycle. In itself, it doesn't make you more fertile, so you would only need to take normal care.

This is like ordering up a double-sized take-home serving of PMS, though, so be warned. It still beats a D&C or menstrual extraction, which are two far, far less pleasant options you could also explore.

Please note, my mama didn't raise none of them doctors.
posted by Sallyfur at 5:55 PM on July 18, 2006

Occhiblu, I understand the interest in trying to keep the topic completely on track, but we have to keep in mind that the options for delaying a period that is a week away are very limited, and that the comments here reflect that. The poster did ask this question pretty late in the game--as someone mentioned above, after ovulation, very little will change the timing of a period, and if the period is a week away, ovulation has very likely already occured.

It's not as though people haven't made stabs at her problem. In fact, the few options that do exist (inducing an early period with abortificants, period cups, etc.) have by and large already been mentioned (though I don't believe anyone has tossed out the option of having an ovariohysterectomy).

People here are offering broader answers, though, which are still very relevant. This sort of thing is not a once-in-a-lifetime problem. Rather, this is something the poster will need to deal with time and again, as she has in the past, and very viable options for those eventualities are being offered.

Anyways, my point here is that we shouldn't discount the other answers even though they don't aid the poster in the here-and-now, because it is advice will likely do her some good (though I'll gladly retract that if there is a follow-up comment from her stating otherwise).
posted by internet!Hannah at 6:10 PM on July 18, 2006

Another option (for the future - I wouldn't experiment this month in case of bad results): I have pretty bad cramps, but I can almost always avoid them if I start taking pain killers even before my period starts (along with staying hydrated). Since you're so regular, start taking whatever painkiller you use (I like Aleve) the day before, at 8 or 12 hour intervals (whichever is reccommended). Keep taking them regularly for a few days (or however long it generally takes your cramps to go away). Of course, you've probably already tried this...
posted by muddgirl at 6:18 PM on July 18, 2006

No, but I don't see any point in rehashing the "My wife is on the patch, my girlfriend's on Depo, my wife skips her placebo pills; this is the history of the pill, all women should be on it" conversation we seem to have once every few months here. The suggestion's been made, and I agree it could be a good, helpful one for the poster, but these threads have a tendency to turn into a random list of BC suggestions based on nothing other than generally second-hand anecdotes and incomplete information about what hormonal birth control does and who it's appropriate for, and that doesn't seem to be what the poster is asking for.
posted by occhiblu at 6:22 PM on July 18, 2006

As a side comment to the "get pregnant tip", my wife has had a total of 4 periods in the past 3 years without the pill or any other artificial means. We're freaks, however.
posted by allthewhile at 7:55 PM on July 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

Occhiblu--my apologies. I took what you were saying as snark about not being on topic, but I see now how you meant it.
posted by internet!Hannah at 9:51 PM on July 18, 2006

Delay Your Period By A Day Or Two By Being Stressed Out.
For a really short-term solution, like if your period is coming in a week and you need to stave it off for a day or two for an event, try just letting stress get to you. Your body will respond by deciding the time is not right for you just now, and then the next day when you're all relaxed, it will come. This happens to me all the time, with or without trying.

(start now)
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 7:55 AM on July 19, 2006 [3 favorites]

Call your gynecologist. Only a week or 10 days away from your event, they are the only ones that might be able to do anything.

FYI, manipulating periods using the BC pills, especially ones that have lots of cramping or bleeding, has to start sooner than the week before and usually doesn't work completely. It can even make things worse, depending on why the cramping is happening. Sure, some respond right away and it works. But no one I know with a cramping or heavy flow problem ever has immediately, including myself.

Your Dr might recomend them for you now, but I doubt they will help this time. But you should absolutely look into them because they are wonderful for solving problems just like yours. I know because I was like that the first 10 years of my period. They will save many special days in your future, and there is no need to live any part of your life miserable if there is a solution.
posted by mattfn at 8:06 AM on July 19, 2006

Sorry to be a downer in this post, but when I started taking a bc pill designed to make me skip periods, I bled or spotted for 6 weeks straight before I decided it wasn't worth it. My doctor told me that this was "normal."

I grabbed my doctor by the collar and asked him when was the last time he bled for 6 weeks and thought is was normal. He didn't really have an answer for me...
posted by kamikazegopher at 9:45 PM on July 19, 2006

« Older What would you do if you hated your job?   |   What is the most cost-effective solution for... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.