Trained in dentistry, Sree is currently studying lab sciences. She enjoys researching various health topics and writing about her findings.
There's a good reason some women joke about how it is best to stay away from them when it is "that time of the month." Having one's monthly period can be a drag. Many women feel discomfort and suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMS symptoms can occur up to one or even two weeks before a woman gets her period and usually do not stop until she starts her period. Sometimes, the pain is quite debilitating and prevents her from participating in her day.
For others, their period may not necessarily be physically uncomfortable, but it still gets in the way of their everyday lives. Preventing and worrying about leakage, buying supplies, and planning around a menstrual cycle takes time and energy, time and energy that could be spent doing something more fun, important, or interesting.
Sometimes, a woman has a big event coming up, for example a wedding, vacation, big test, or a marathon. When she goes to put it on the calendar, she may realize that the date will probably coincide with her period.
Maybe she doesn't want to start a family or already had her children and views the monthly period as an unnecessary pain.
For whatever reason, if given the chance, many women would choose to skip or shorten their period. They feel that they deal with enough stress and responsibility and/or discomfort on a daily basis to be bothered.
For those women, here are some solutions.
Use of Oral Contraceptives
The first and most common way used to shorten your period is by taking oral contraceptives, which not only speeds up the process of your period, but also lessens the blood flow. It's an easy solution for abbreviating your cycle because all that you need to do is take one contraceptive pill on a daily basis for 21 days.
These pills are made up of the female hormone estrogen or a mixture of both estrogen and progesterone. After the 21st day of taking the pills, you are supposed to take a placebo (a pill that contains no hormones) for seven days which enables you to get your period. If you want to stop your period, you can just opt to not take the placebo pill and start a new pack of pills right away. If you do not take the placebo pills, your body will not be able to start its menstrual cycle.
Five new extended or continuous-cycle oral contraceptives have been approved by the USFDA. Usually they shorten the duration of, decrease the frequency of, or completely eliminate the period.
Advocates of these continuous treatments point to the fairly good safety profile for oral contraceptives, but the long-term effects of taking period-suppressing hormones continuously aren't fully known.
Side Effects of Using the Pill
Be aware that there are side effects when it comes to taking the pill including nausea, headaches, weight gain, and spotting (bleeding) when you are not on your period. More serious effects include heart attacks and strokes. The pill is more dangerous for women who smoke, are over the age of 35, suffer from high blood pressure, and/or are overweight.
With these risks come a few benefits like lowering the risk of certain cancers.
The best way to find out about your individual benefits and risks is by consulting a trusted physician.
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Other Contraceptive Methods
Other contraceptives—like vaginal rings, intrauterine devices, and contraceptive patches—are also helpful when women want to shorten their menstrual cycle as they also suppress and lessen the duration of the menstrual cycle. They can be used over an extended length of time to suppress menstruation and decrease bleeding duration.
Injectable Depo Provera
If you are not fearful of needles, another option is using the injectable hormonal contraceptive called Depo Provera every 11 to 13 weeks. It contains the hormone progesterone. For use as a period-shortener, results vary: some women experience shorter periods with its use. Half of women who use it for a year will no longer have periods. For others, periods may be longer and some may experience random and continuous spotting.
Lysteda to Lessen Menstrual Bleeding
For women who want an option that doesn't involve hormones, taking Lysteda may be a solution. This is a drug which works by stabilizing a protein that helps blood to clot and looks especially useful for those who experience very heavy bleeding during their menstrual cycle.
Lysteda is only taken during your period, five days out of the month, three times a day. It does not treat premenstrual symptoms, does not affect your fertility, and cannot be used as birth control, but it does allow you to lessen the amount of menstrual bleeding.
Using a Drug or Medicine to Control Menstrual Cycle
It is important to speak with your doctor prior to starting these prescription contraceptives—not only to get the prescription, but also to analyze your individual health benefits and risks. Take into consideration how long you want to use such contraceptives. Talking to your doctor will help you take control and receive step-by-step instructions on how to use your prescription.
While there are women who are fine with taking medications, others prefer natural solutions. There are a few ways that one can go about it. Certain herbs can be used to help make your menstrual cycle shorter, and exercise can help.
These herbal remedies can be truly effective in treating menstrual difficulties. Herbs can be used in tea, pills, or liquid form. These remedies have not been studied or tested and are not regulated by the FDA.
Chasteberry, also known as Vitex agnus-castus or “the women’s herb," is a native of the Mediterranean region: the fruit and seed are used as medicine. Chasteberry is an herb that controls a woman's levels of prolactin, one of the hormones that triggers menstruation. Since the time of Hippocrates, it has been used for many period and fertility-related issues including controlling, menstrual cycle irregularities, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and bleeding.
Chasteberry can be found in liquid or capsule form and should be taken three times a day for best results.
- Raspberry tea. Some women swear by a daily dose of dark raspberry tea as a delightful way to shorten their menstrual period, combat heavy menstrual bleeding, and relieve painful menstrual cramps.
- Yarrow. Yarrow helps contract tissues or blood vessels and reduces bleeding. Drink an herbal tincture of yarrow a week before your period.
- Maca root. The Maca root, available as a capsule or in powder form, helps treat an irregular period by regulating hormones that help regulate the function of the ovaries.
Natural Menstrual Products
Some women who use reusable menstrual products report shorter and lighter periods. You can purchase washable cloth pads, sea sponges, or menstrual cups at a health food store.
Whether drinking a lot of water can help shorten your period still needs to be tested, but it is guaranteed to make you a bit more comfortable during your period as it will prevent dehydration. Dehydration stimulates the production of a hormone called vasopressin which can cause terrible cramps. Try to get at least eight glasses of water a day to avoid dehydration and promote good health.
One of the simplest ways a woman can shorten her period is by exercising on a regular basis. Because exercising strengthens pelvic muscles and reduces the fat around your ovaries, it greatly helps in reducing the length of the menstrual cycle and lessening the effects of PMS.
Sex and Masturbation
Women have claimed that sex and masturbation are excellent ways to lessen the duration of their period. An orgasm can help relieve stress, release endorphins, and greatly reduce the pain of menstrual cramps. An orgasm contracts the uterus, aiding in the sloughing off of the uterine wall, and also releases endorphins which are natural painkillers and mood enhancers which help to soothe cramps, headaches, and mood issues.
To Each Her Own
Every woman's body is different, so just because one method works for your friend does not necessarily mean that it will work for you. Try out the options that you feel most comfortable with and see how your body reacts. This will ensure that you find a solution that works perfectly for you.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.