What the Research Says About Shortening Your Period

Let's face it: periods are inconvenient. Perhaps you had a beach vacation planned or your wedding was just around the corner and you wished you could skip the stress of worrying about your period.

Periods can last anywhere from 2-7 days and occur anywhere from 21-35 days (and our online period calculator can help you anticipate when your next period will arrive).

Hormones regulate the onset and duration of menstruation. The hypothalamus is the brain region of origin because it is where GRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone) is secreted. Specifically, it stimulates the pituitary gland to release more follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). These hormones, though they are secreted in the brain, are what keep the ovaries working properly. Periods aren't as simple as you might think.

To maintain ovulation, the ovaries respond to follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). In addition to having an effect on one another directly, the various sex hormones can also influence one another indirectly, through a feedback mechanism, such as when an excess of one hormone inhibits the production of another.

Several phases of fluctuating hormone levels are linked to the menstrual cycle:

The menstrual cycle
  1. The follicular phase of a woman's menstrual cycle begins on the first day of menstruation and lasts anywhere from 10-16 days. Estrogen is the primary endocrine factor during this time. This is the time after menstruation when the follicles in the ovaries are stimulated to grow and the uterine lining (endometrium) thickens.
  2. At the close of the follicular phase, an egg is released. The levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) rise in response to elevated estrogen during this time. When an ovarian follicle bursts, it transforms into the corpus luteum, a tiny yellow ball. Subsequently, this framework will generate progesterone, the next phase's primary hormone.
  3. Next, the luteal phase completes the second half of the cycle. In this stage, progesterone plays a major role in preparing the endometrium for the possible implantation of a fertilized egg. The progression of endometrial thickening is slowed by progesterone. If conception does not take place, the corpus luteum will atrophy and hormone levels will decrease. This is your period, which occurs when the endometrium detaches from the uterine walls due to a lack of hormone support.

The endometrium is the last thing to grow and change during a menstrual cycle because of hormones. Changes in the duration and severity of menstruation have been linked to fluctuations in these hormones. These hormonal factors may contribute to longer menstrual cycles:

  • Hormonal discord in the pituitary resulting from alterations in pituitary structure, which affect the release of FSH and LH. How long intervals last is affected by this. As one example, a study conducted in 2012 on 259 healthy women found that higher FSH levels were linked to heavier periods.
  • Reduced levels of thyroid hormone have been linked to heavier, more prolonged periods.
  • When estrogen levels are abnormally high, the endometrium can become floppy and vascularized. It also lengthens the time between periods.
  • Absence of ovulation results in a lack of corpus luteum formation and, consequently, an inability of progesterone to promote endometrial growth, leading to cycles known as anovulatory. Overgrowth of tissue and extended times (greater than seven days) result.

Menstruation results from the shedding of the endometrium, the uterine lining, at the start of each menstrual cycle. And we understand why that is. If it starts, though, is there any way to stop it? Not really Unfortunately, once menstruation has begun, there is no pill or medication that can stop it. But Hormonal contraception can prevent menstruation before it begins, and there are other medications that can reduce or eliminate the discomfort of menstruation. So, let's dig in and see what we can find out.

Options to stop or lighten your period

Hormonal contraceptives can reduce or even eliminate menstruation in some women. Taking birth control pills throughout the cycle will reduce the amount of blood and tissue your body normally loses as a result of menstruation.

Birth control options include extended-cycle methods where active pills are taken consistently without breaks. You can use these to avoid getting your period. Some women with menstrual problems, such as painful periods due to endometriosis or excessive menstrual bleeding, are advised by doctors to try going menstrual cycle-free for a while.

You can use extended-cycle birth control to avoid having your period during a special occasion like a wedding or holiday. It's not a good idea to try this without a doctor's approval, though. Hormonal IUDs and subdermal implants are two other methods of contraception that can temporarily halt your period.

Inflammatory substances called prostaglandins play a role in the mechanism that sets off your period, and NSAIDs like ibuprofen work by suppressing their production. High-dose ibuprofen, which decreases prostaglandins, can lessen menstrual bleeding and make periods lighter. However, it shouldn't be used to prevent periods altogether.

Most NSAIDs are available without a prescription, but they still carry the risk of side effects like stomach ulcers, gastritis, and coagulation issues. You should never take more than the prescribed dose.

Extensive research shows that tranexamic acid can reduce menstrual bleeding. Oral tranexamic acid decreased bleeding by 60% across 11 controlled trials. Studies have shown, however, that tranexamic acid has no effect on menstrual flow duration.

It is usually safe to use these methods occasionally to help you stop or shorten your period. It's recommended you see a doctor, though, if your periods are particularly heavy and you also have other unpleasant symptoms like painful cramps.

It's important to get checked out by a doctor to rule out any underlying medical issues that could be prolonging your cycles.  

Using tampons may make some people's periods seem shorter, while using pads, which don't restrict flow, may make other people's periods seem shorter. There is, however, no proof that using tampons or pads will hasten the end of your period.

Period products, such as a menstrual cup, can help alleviate the stress of having your period while traveling or attending a special event. Using specialized menstrual products won't hasten the end of your period, but they can make the experience more bearable and help prevent embarrassing leaks.

If you take birth control pills regularly, for example, you can avoid your period altogether. However, before making any adjustments to your method of contraception or beginning any new medications or supplements, you should consult with your doctor.

The truth is that once a period has begun, there is no proven way to stop it quickly. But there are ways to reduce menstrual bleeding and medications to alleviate period discomfort. This can make your period more bearable and liberating.

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