Is Delaying Your Period On Purpose Actually Safe?

The menstrual cycle and the circle of life it represents is a beautiful example of nature's wonder. Nevertheless, it can be upsetting to realize that your period is going to be joining you for an upcoming event like your wedding, honeymoon, camping trip, or first triathlon. If you tend to suffer from menstrual symptoms like severe cramping, dizziness, headaches, or heavy bleeding, getting your period might even mean being forced to cancel your plans altogether. Up to 10% of people with periods experience severe pain, according to Women's Health Concern.

It's no wonder that users like Chiina_s have racked up tens of millions of views on their TikTok videos suggesting natural methods for delaying the start of your period. While some of these strategies, like drinking a shot of lime juice with Tajin seasoning, seem quite harmless, others feel a little more alarming. Ibuprofen doses double the strength of an over-the-counter dose are often recommended, sometimes with a mixture of lemon juice and gelatin.

There is no evidence that any of the methods shared on social media work, and high doses of medications like Ibuprofen can increase the chances of side effects such as bleeding in the digestive tract (via Medical News Today). Fortunately, there are physician-approved ways to safely delay your period. Here's how. 

How to delay your period if you're on birth control

If you already use hormonal birth control like combined estrogen-progestin pills, transdermal patches, or vaginal rings, delaying your period is super simple. If you notice that your period is due at a particularly inconvenient time, all you need to do is plan ahead. When it's time to start your placebo pills or remove your ring or patch for your period week, don't. Instead, just start a new pack of pills, stick on a new patch, or insert a new ring. Keeping your body on a continuous dose of these hormones will simply skip your period until it's time for next month's break. According to Family Planning, taking birth control continuously does not increase the chances of experiencing serious side effects or introduce the risk of additional side effects.

If you skip your period and feel like your quality of life significantly improves because of it, you might want to consider skipping it every month. Since the uterine lining doesn't thicken when you're on hormonal birth control, there is no real reason you need to have a monthly period. Just keep in mind that the longer you skip your period, the higher the chances of developing some potentially annoying breakthrough spotting. Switching to a pill that is designed to provide longer breaks between periods may help reduce such side effects (via Mayo Clinic). 

How to delay your period if you're not on birth control

If you're not on hormonal birth control but still wish to delay an upcoming period, there is a way to safely do so. Again, you'll need to do some planning ahead, so always track your cycle and keep an eye on the future. As soon as you realize that your period might coincide with an important event, call your OBGYN. Explain your situation and inquire about your options for controlling when your period starts. If you are a safe candidate, your doctor will likely prescribe a medication called norethisterone, a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone. This medication is capable of delaying your period for up to 17 days and will need to be started a few days before your period is due to start (via Patient).

Speak to your doctor about a more long-term solution if you wish to stop or frequently skip your period. Semi-permanent forms of hormonal birth control, such as intrauterine devices or injections frequently result in the loss or reduction of periods (via Web MD). Working together with a medical professional, you can find the safe period schedule that works best for you both in the short and long term.