Periods are different things to different people, but we can probably all agree that sometimes, periods are inconvenient, inconsistent, and irritatingly irregular. Not only can an irregular period mess up your whole week — but even a period that arrives on schedule is usually traveling with its buddies, cramps, moodiness, depression and other PMS-related side effects that you may just not have time to deal with during a particularly hectic week. For all these reasons, I'm sure you've wished you knew how to make your period come faster a million times. I mean, sure, menstruation is an essential part of life, and sometimes it can make you feel wonderfully connected to the cycle of your own body and fertility — but other times, it can be frustrating to feel like such a big part of our bodies and our lives is totally out of our control.
But there are actually ways to make your period come even if you're not on hormonal birth control. Though our cycles are unique to our bodies, they also react to external forces, some of which can induce your period to come early. This is a reaction we can all use from time to time — whether we want to deal with our PMS before we have a big presentation at work, or if we're about to go on vacation, and want to make sure that we don't spend our whole trip in our hotel room, doubled over with cramps.
These methods aren't foolproof, and won't work for everyone every time. Getting your period overnight is often just a matter of waiting. And if one method doesn't seem to be working for you, definitely don't take extra medication — it might just not be one that meshes with your personal body chemistry. But if you're in a tight spot, and want to try everything you can to get your period on schedule, give one of these five methods a shot.
1. Take Your Birth Control
If you're on the Pill, you can manipulate when you’ll get your period and when you won’t. According to Dr. Valerie French, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Kansas, if you want to get your period sooner, then just switch to your placebo pills. If you want to skip your period all together, go straight into the hormonal pills instead of taking your placebos the week you’re supposed to take them.
While this might throw your period for a bit of a loop during the next month, as it will mess with your 28-day schedule, as long as you keep track and are armed with panty liners for possible accidents, you’ll be fine. You shouldn't have to have an important event or holiday ruined because you have your period and all the possible side effects that come with having it: cramps, bloating, irritation, and the rest of it.
But it’s worth noting that when you do switch around your pills, there can be other side effects. Jumping to placebo earlier than planned could lead to headaches, Dr. Thaïs Aliabadi, an OB/GYN based in Los Angeles, tells Bustle. This is because pills that contain estrogen keep your hormones at a certain level, so when they’re taken away headaches and mood swings can possibly follow. But that’s a small price to pay so you don’t have your period while backpacking through Indonesia.
2. Try Parsley Tea
As any herbalist will tell you, emmenagogues are a family of herbs that stimulate blood flow in the pelvis and uterus, and can sometimes make your period come sooner. If you have confirmed you are not pregnant, to safely induce your period, you can try some mild emmenagogues like parsley, ginger, yarrow, rosemary and sage brewed into tea. Practitioners of herbal medicine suggest that these herbs can relax the uterus, which is why they may be able to induce abortion in people who are pregnant, but there's limited data to back up these claims.
While these herbs are not toxic to adults, you still want to be wise about using them. Start with small doses after consulting with a doctor or an herbalist, and if they don't work, chalk it up to the fact that each person's body is different.
3. Have An Orgasm
During sexual intercourse, the stimulation of the vagina causes pelvic blood flow to head in that direction. This is most definitely the case if intercourse includes an orgasm as the contractions that come with climaxing can help dilate the cervix, which also contributes to the uterine lining shedding. Same goes for masturbating — it, too, can help bring your period on if it's late. (Let’s be honest, you definitely don’t need another person to have an orgasm.)
But it’s not just the act of sex that can bring on your period. The hormones that are produced and released during orgasm can also contribute to speeding up the arrival of your period. While we often think of oxytocin as being the chemical that's released during sex, it’s not alone. Oxytocin combined with adrenaline and dopamine are all released during sex (and masturbation) and can play a part in making one’s period coming faster.
There’s also the fact that semen softens the cervix, which can result in bringing on early menstruation (obviously, this method should only be used in couples were everyone is tested, monogamous, and using reliable birth control). Sex really is good for everything, isn’t it?
4. Reduce Your Stress
Yes, it's easier said than done — but since we already know that massive stress can make your period late by days or even months, then it certainly makes sense that reducing your stress can keep your period on track.
"Your hypothalamus regulates the part of brain that is responsible for regulating your period," Ashley Wood, RN, BSN, a registered nurse and contributor to Demystifying Your Health, LLC, tells Bustle. "When you’re stressed it affects your hypothalamus and can throw off your hormones." When this happens, your period can be late.
There are many ways in which you can cut down on your stress. For example, yoga and meditation are obvious ways to get stress levels in check. Even things like taking hot baths can relax your mind and body enough to speed up your period’s arrival.
Learning to manage your stress is very important — and not just because it can make your period arrive earlier. "Handling your stress is something that everyone needs to do because there are many mental and physical health risks if you don’t," psychiatrist Dr. Vinay Saranga, tells Bustle. "Too much stress can lead to burnout and depression, [...] relationship problems, high blood pressure and heart disease, and a potential of self-medicating with drugs and alcohol.”
Speaking of stress, another great way to decrease it and make your period come is to exercise. The endorphins released during a workout can both relieve stress and lower estrogen levels. Both of these things are ideal when trying to induce your period, although it should be noted that you don’t want to lower your estrogen levels too much.
"Serotonin levels in the brain can fall due to a lack of estrogen, leading to depression," Dr. Kimberly Langdon, medical advisor at Medzino, tells Bustle. "Low estrogen levels can also cause vaginal dryness, hot [flashes], and frequent urinary tract infections."
In fact, if you work out too much, you don’t just run the risk of lowering your estrogen levels too much, but it could lead to amenorrhea, or the absence of a period. The reason for this is that your body may interpret all that excessive exercising as stress, making your period run late instead.
"This results from a hormonal disruption that occurs usually as a consequence of underfueling (not taking in enough or enough quality calories to support one’s daily physical activities)," Dr. Cordelia Carter, orthopedic surgeon and Director of Women’s Sports Medicine at NYU Langone, tells Bustle. "Energy is shunted towards maintaining the most critical biologic processes and normal sex hormone production and regulation may become unsustainable, which manifests as loss of the normal period." Again, this is where that whole moderation thing comes into play.
Are any of these 100% guaranteed to make your period coming faster? No. And if you're concerned about your period's lateness, talk to your doctor about getting down to the bottom of the issue.
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