HOW TO STOP YOUR PERIOD (BUT DO YOU REALLY WANT TO?)

For some women, having a period is a sacred moment, while for many, it’s felt to be an inconvenience. For others, that monthly flow brings on intense side effects like cramping, mood swings, and heavy bleeding that can make doing daily activities feel impossible. No matter which side of the coin you’re on, you may have considered whether you should stop your period and, if you were to do so, how you can go about it.

The answer is, it depends on a lot of different factors.

There are many people—both medical professionals and professional menstruators (if only we could get paid for that, right?)—that say stopping or skipping your period is perfectly safe. One of the main points that people who are for stopping periods make is that there are many times in a woman’s life when her period is naturally MIA, like when she’s pregnant or breastfeeding. Another angle to this point of view is based on the knowledge that, while estrogen causes your uterine lining to thicken, progesterone keeps it thin. When you’re using hormonal birth control to skip or stop your period, the progesterone keeps your uterine lining from building up, thus leaving nothing for your uterus to shed for a period. Those who are “Team Stop Your Period” believe that suppressing your period for either medical reasons (like if you have menorrhagia) or for recreational reasons (like not wanting to deal with possible period leaks at the beach) is safe.

On the other side of the fence, there are many people who understand why some women may want to stop their periods but can’t get behind the trend of menstrual suppression. They believe that encouraging women to stop their periods is just another way that pharmaceutical companies (and those who profit from them) are medicalizing women’s bodies. The Canadian Women’s Health Network describes this as, “seeing and treating natural experiences and socially-created problems as biological diseases or illnesses that require medical surveillance or intervention.” This line of thinking speaks to how women are made to feel as though their periods are not natural when, in fact, they are and have been a part of the female biology for as long as humans have existed. It’s not just political, however. There are real health concerns about stopping your period—whether it’s for a few months or many years. Actually, there are concerns about the use of hormonal birth control, period. That’s a discussion for another day, though.

The concern with stopping your period lies in the truth that we just don’t fully know what the long-term effects are of using hormones to stop your menstrual cycle. The Society for Menstrual Cycle Research said:

Long-term studies that address potential risks beyond the uterus, such as breast, bone, and cardiovascular health are still needed. Furthermore, there is an urgent need for studies that address impacts on adolescent development, since young women and girls are a target audience for cycle-stopping contraceptives. It is also important to address the social, psychological, and cultural implications of menstrual suppression, as well as the biomedical effects.

Granted, this statement came out in 2007 but, to date, there has not been adequate research to show that using hormonal birth control to stop your period is safe in the long run.

Potential Health Benefits and Risks of Stopping Your Period

So, now that you have an idea of why different people have different beliefs about stopping your period, let’s take a look at the potential benefits and risks.

Benefits

According to the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, the following are possible benefits of using hormonal birth control to stop your period.

  • Less pain with your period
  • Less bleeding each month
  • Fewer PMS symptoms
  • Reduced menstrual migraines
  • Reduced period-induced acne
  • Fewer perimenopausal symptoms
  • An increased sense of well-being

Those all sound ideal, right? A life free from wondering when your period will treat you to a surprise visit, stained underwear, and PMS. It sounds great — in theory.

Risks

Unfortunately, it’s not quite as easy to list out the possible risks of stopping your period. The reproductive cycle is complex, especially when you take hormones into account. There are more obvious risks and some that are not-so-obvious.

  • The risk of pregnancy—no birth control is 100% effective and, if you’re taking a hormonal birth control, you may not see the signs of an accidental pregnancy early on
  • Breakthrough bleeding as your body adjusts to the constant influx of hormone
  • Spotting—women who suppress their period are still subject to surprise spotting
  • Dr. Jerilynn Prior, of the Center for Ovulation and Menstrual Cycle Research, and Dr. Susan Rak, the author of No More Periods? The Risks of Menstrual Suppression share in a Dame article written by Holly Grigg-Spall that “experiencing your monthly cycle of ovulation and menstruation boosts bone, heart, and breast health and protects against some of the most common causes of premature death—heart disease, breast cancer, cervical cancer, and heart attacks, as well as osteoporosis and stroke.” In other words, not having your menstrual cycle could make you more prone to these.
  • Though there’s no data that says that stopping your period causes infertility, it can leave you blind to it. Your periods provide a window into your health and the regularity (or irregularity) of them can help your doctor to identify whether you will have fertility issues when you try to conceive. Not having your period eliminates these signs and can cause you to be misled about how fertile you are or are not.
  • Depression, blood clots, weight gain, mood swings, changes in eyesight, nausea, decreased sexual drive—these are all side effects of hormonal birth control (and the list is far from inclusive). When you take hormonal birth control as a suppressant, you are putting up to 25% more of these synthetic hormones into your body each year and are even more at risk for experiencing these side effects. If you care about what you put in your body when it comes to tampons, this is probably a big factor to consider.

Obviously, there are a lot of side effects, both positive and negative, associated with stopping your period. But it doesn’t stop there…

The Larger Cultural Impact of Menstrual Suppression

The cultural implications of suppressing menstruation play a large role in why many people feel that women shouldn’t be encouraged to stop their periods. In a society where women are shamed for having a period, the last thing we want to do is validate that not having one is better. This obsession with hormonal birth control and being period-free sends a message that having a period is not natural or acceptable. There has not been sufficient research done on the effect that stopping your period has on the way women feel about their bodies or the culture of menstruation as a whole.

One study by Robin Ashley Repta at the University of British Columbia, explored the cultural impact of menstrual suppression on women and found that their motivations to stop their periods were largely based on how society defines menstruation as “embarrassing,” “gross,” and “taboo.” Among the motivations to menstruate? Health concerns, distrust of pharmaceuticals, and wanting to have a natural cycle. Regardless of which side of the menstrual suppression coin you find yourself on, there’s no denying that the motivations for many women to stop their period being due to shame around bleeding is cause for alarm.

How to Stop Your Period

Ultimately, deciding to stop your period is a choice that you can make with your doctor. The goal here isn’t to tell you how to live your life (your uterus, your choice, #feminism), but to give you comprehensive information that will allow you to make an informed choice. If you have decided that you want to stop your period, there are a few different ways your doctor will likely suggest you can go about it.

The Pill

If you want to stop your period using the pill, you can skip the sugar pills and take the hormonal pills continuously.

Seasonal Birth Control

If you don’t want to stop your period entirely, you can opt for a birth control, like Lybrel, Seasonale, and Seasonique, that only gives you 4 periods a year.

Mirena IUD

Many women who have the Mirena IUD, which can protect you from pregnancy for up to 5 years, find that their periods become shorter and less frequent. In some cases, they disappear completely, though there’s no guarantee of this.

Birth Control Shot (Depo-Provera)

One of the most effective forms of birth control, the Depo shot causes some women’s periods to stop after a year of continuous use. You’ll need to get the shot every 12 weeks to make it effective.

Vaginal Ring

Similar to the Pill, the vaginal ring (or NuvaRing) is meant to be worn inside your vagina for 3 weeks and then taken out for the 4th week, so you can have a period. To use this to skip your period, you just replace the old ring with a new one with no break in between.

If you do decide to stop your period, have a discussion with your doctor about using birth control with that intent. Messing with your menstrual cycle using hormones can be risky. Sure, the benefits seem great now but when it comes to your reproductive health, it’s important to take long-term risks into consideration. It’s your choice, girl. Just be informed and confident about how and why you’re making that choice.

Featured image by Christoph Keil

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32 Comments

  • I have the nexplanon insert, I wish it touched based on that.

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  • I haven’t menstruated for over 10 years, and started menstural suppression in my mid-20s on my own. I don’t see the point of menstruation. As far as I’m concerned, it’s an unnecessary inconvenience. For me, it’s completely superfluous to my identity as a woman. Why choose to bleed when there is no need?

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    • > Please tell me how! I’ve been on Nores, but it hasn’t stopped my period at all, even with skipping the placebos. It’s awful. I agree, it’s completely useless. I don’t want children, ever, so why would I need to bleed? It’s inconvenient, stressful, and really messy and painful.

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  • Hi my name is taskel I am form south Africa I have been on my period for more 2 weeks and it won’t stop now I am sorry there mint be same thing wrong so what must I do can you help me

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    • > If you have just started your period for the first time you can have it up to 14 days some people longer. Everyone is different and heavy bleeding but it does usually get into a regular cycle within in 2 years. If you are concerned go and see your doctor. All the best.

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  • In my thirties I certainly used birth control to control when I had my period but I always felt I needed to let it come because it felt cleansing and renewing. Then I got a blood clot in my leg so I had to stop using the pill. My periods got very heavy after that and often caused embarrassing situations and I was very frustrated. So at age 40 I had my tubes tied and had a uterine ablation which REALLY helped!! Five years later my periods are still very light, just one regular CORA tampon per day for 4-5 days and it’s great!!

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  • I’m trans and I want to stop it forever. Even if I’m not on my ‘period’, it still stresses me out and I live in dread for the next few free weeks.

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  • My period actually stopped for a year without my control. I have prolactinoma (still being treated for it), so there was a benign tumor on my pituitary gland of cells that make prolactin, the hormone that causes you to lactate. It actually started taking energy from my other hormone production so I had really low estrogen and that stopped my periods.
    Now they’re back with the medicine I take lowering my prolactin levels anD leaving energy for my estrogen to come back and bring back this.
    I hate it 🙂

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  • I’m 42 an started going thru “artificial menopause ” at the age of 34 an I’ve been checked by my dr my female organs are fine, but I sometime go 20 days in a row with severe low back pain. My cousin is 47 an is on Depo she actually LOST weight on the Depo shot an hasnt had a period or spotted in 25 years…LOOKS LIKE THE DEPO IS MY NEXT MOVE

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  • I want to stop my period permanently because of pain.. will I do it?? how? Is it affects my health

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  • Well I have endromitriosis, fibroids and cysts. My life is horrible. There is not a day, on and off my period, that I dont suffer from back pain. I go to sleep with pain and wake up with pain. The only thing that gave me relief was not having my period. The medicine worked for a while but then it stopped working. I dont want to have my uterus removed because in the end it would end up giving me pain and issues as well but this pain is so great and uncomfortable that I’m really thinking of just getting it removed. Don’t even get me started on how much worse it all gets once my period begins. The sharp stabing pain gets worse, the nausea, the lightheadiness, the stomach issues, mood swings, I hate everything and everyone, ect. I’m so unhappy right now. My life is just not been the same after I developed this medical issue. There has to be more medical studies done to help women. There is just no care that some women suffer like this.

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  • I disagree that not having your periods is “unnatural”, because with humans (back in the day and still in more primitive cultures) as well as other mammals, what’s natural is being pregnant, giving birth to your young and getting pregnant again. This is obviously not the same as suppressing your periods “artificially”, but I think it’s still noteworthy that having your period is not that natural.

    I’m currently 9mo postpartum, always had menstrual migraines, using an IUD with hormones but it hasn’t helped stop my periods yet or helped with my migraines and nausea. I’m getting them during my period as well as my ovulation. That essentially means that I’m pain-free just a couple of weeks each month. During those migraines I cannot eat, drink or function normally at all, only sleep and wake up to vomit stomach acid.

    This article makes it sound like women who want to stop their periods are high-maintenance dummies who are caught in the hooks of Big Pharma and the patriarchal society that says that periods are embarrassing. While this might be the case for some, there are also some like myself who cannot live a proper life while having periods, don’t feel comfortable advancing my career knowing how many sick days I’ll have to use each month, don’t know how to manage taking care of a small baby, and the list goes on.

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  • Periods are bullshit and it’s not even natural to have them every month. in hunter gatherer cultures, women get pregnant very young and nurse their kids for years, then get pregnant again. They rarely have periods. I don’t need to ooze blood and be in pain to be in touch with my body.

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  • periods suck. I wish I wouldn’t see mine at all forever. please what can I do to be rid of this nuisance and pains? I always feel so uncomfortable. and on top of it, I end up losing blood that I don’t even have

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  • I just recently found out I have cysts on both ovaries. I found out because one of them ruptured and I literally thought I was dying. The pain since has been constant and there is a chance it could happen again. If I have surgery to remove the cysts I will be strongly considering opting for having my tubes removed. I have suffered my entire life from painful periods and don’t think there is anything natural about having to put yourself through that. I will not be less of a woman without a period, it’s my choice and I have to do what is best for my quality of life. Society has nothing to do with my decisions and I am not embarrassed by my cycle or my womanly issues. They are mine and mine alone.

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  • I’m only 17 but I already don’t want my period anymore :/ it’s negatively affecting how I do in school and work and I don’t even want to get pregnant or have sex at all. Is there any solution to stop my period at this age?

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  • Seems like the older i get the heaver an more frequent my period came. The cramps even got worser . Only positive side i am k with having a period is I think it relieves blood clots that flow through the body . Other than that i think periods are thee most horrible painful thing once a mos for 5 days suks They wasnt this bad when i was in my 20 or 30;s yrs of age Why why me.

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  • I found this article quite upsetting, personally. My take from this article was period = good, no period = freak of nature who kills children for fun. It seems to push temporary “hormonal period suppression” as the only way for those looking to stop bleeding. Regular, monthly periods are in no way natural, and I struggled with anemia from puberty until I started hormonal birth control.

    I understand that some people seek to stop their period based on the culture surrounding it, but the way this is brought up reduces all those on the “Stop Bleeding Team” to a group of pushovers without any real beliefs or convictions. I myself am looking forward to the day that I have my period permanent shut down. After all, as you said so eloquently, “my body, my choice”.

    In regards to distrusting pharmaceutical companies, I’d like to see how much money they make from period products (pads, tampons) compared to how much they make from birth control. This was entirely skipped over just to make it seem as though “Big Pharma” was out to stick us full of chemicals. This may have the same final conclusion, but the additional data would at least disguise some bias.

    Lastly (I have quite a few gripes), there was no mention of permanently stopping periods. I understand that these operations (endometrial ablation, partial or full hysterectomy) are usually not elective, but excluding them completely marginalized those who seek permanent relief from bleeding every month. The way this article was constructed pushed the “you don’t want a period *now* but you will some day” view to the extreme. There are people who feel invalidated by this “you don’t know what you want so let me tell you” mentality.

    People who seek to free themselves from anemia, the cost of periods, or children are not selfish monsters who hate the economy and want babies to die. They are people. That’s it. There is no need to alienate such a group, especially when claiming to “believe every women deserves to embrace her female spirit”. If that is what you truly believe, make articles that reflect the individuality and differences of women, without the biases you so clearly express.

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  • THIS. So much. I don’t hate my period because ~evil SOCIETY and their SHAMING OF WOMAN THINGS~ tells me to. I hate it because I don’t like blood, so naturally I’d hate being forced to have blood come out of my body regardless of how careful I am to avoid injury. And also, it’s inconvenient and stains things, and if you don’t want to stain things you have to take extra measures that I personally absolutely notice as I go about my day—for example, whenever I walk I’d feel the pad even if it was thin. Absolutely not. I’m a woman who can think for herself, not a ~poor sheeple guided by the evil society, who needs to be lead in the right direction.~ Who the heck thinks having periods isn’t natural? Everyone knows it’s biological. Too bad I don’t care that it’s natural. It’s an inconvenience. Get rid of it. Just because it’s natural doesn’t make it good. Is cancer good? No, but it’s ~natural~. I don’t care about fertility because I don’t want to have a kid, and I’ll never be sexually active because I don’t want to. At least this article still tells you how I can cancel my period forever and acknowledges it’s my uterus my choice, because other articles literally say “how to stop your period” and then list why you shouldn’t do it. Not everything has to be gender-politicized. Let me stop my period without questioning my motives ugh. I love being a woman. I will not be less of a woman without a period.

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  • this article is absurd. of course i don’t want a period, it’s the inner lining of an internal organ coming out of your coochie. if i had the choice to stop pooping i would, and if i had the chance to stop my period i would too. it’s not a “hating woman” thing, it’s a “i don’t want to be miserable once a month for the rest of my life thing”. i wish they provided some ways to permanently stop your period, not just temporary ways.

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  • I have been trying to conceive for 10 years o no avail and period pains and heavy period will not let me have my peace for 7 good days and as well followed with days of watery discharge. Do I need to continue grieving in pains without having pains.
    Period is cage and filled with pains.
    I think I cant continue having these pains anylonger
    I want to stop having menstruation

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  • I desperately wish to have an ablation. With the exception of bone health my period is just a useless nuisance to me, I’ve known since I was 15 and was able to get sterilized but the painful and messy (god if only I could do away with the mess) period remains. I don’t appreciate the “but it’s natural” and spiritual woo-woo sentiment of keeping it. So is arsenic, doesn’t mean I personally have to put up with it….?

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  • from my childhood seeing my mom with her heavy and discussing periods I didn’t like to have period ever till now. I am 38, and from day first till now I find it super disgusting and it. I think that is enough as I don’t want children. Has anyone heard about permanently stop bleeding without taking pills frequently or punting an object inside you?

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  • Mirena is bullshit. If you start with a regular, light to moderate period it won’t stop your periods. Doctors do not share the research that pharmaceuticals companies produce. The mirena is only shown to stop periods if they are naturally heavy and irregular. Otherwise, while you won’t get knocked up for 5 years, you still bleed. Normal periods shorten and come more frequently. So instead of menstruating once a month it can become 13 to 14 times per year, and this is normal.

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  • I want to get rid of my period please right now I don’t what it anymore please get a away please please please please 🙏

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  • Man in jealous, you only get it a few days once a month? I get maybe a week of normally and then the mood swings hit and the occupation pain and then I bleed for like a week at least and then it starts again, often I get it twice a month 😭

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  • I began having irregular periods when I was 11 years old. Back then, the doctor put me on birth control pills to “regulate” my cycles, but they never returned on their own unless I was taking a pill. They have always been heavy, even on the pill. At 25, I stopped the pill and months later, I was put on Provera to “jumpstart” my cycles. My God.. it was AWFUL! Just a heavy, bloody mess for 3 weeks straight! Never took it again. My new and current doctor found out I had PCOS when I turned 28. He suggested I take Metformin for my insulin levels (they were high) and to help regulate my periods, along with losing weight. Still I saw NOTHING. I haven’t had a “period” in 2 years and I’ve tried everything. I never dealt with cysts, fibroids, endometriosis or anything before and never had any pain whatsoever. Not sure why I’m one of those women who just don’t have periods. If women don’t need to bleed, is it really safe? Are women like me at risk for uterine cancer like my previous doctors said?? Is there any medical proof that NOT bleeding causes cancer?? I hope not. That scares me! 🙁

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  • I am pregnant right now so no periods for me right now but before that every two weeks prior to my cycle, I am either emotional, crying or angry/filled with rage. I end up arguing with people and saying the worse things you could think of to them. Very harsh! I eat a lot, sleep periodically through the days and weeks which affects how I raise and care for my sons and I sometimes feel suicidal. I remember asking the doctor for a hysterectomy and being told no because I was too young. At the time I was about 28. I felt my periods getting worse as I aged and felt the need for the procedure but unfortunately……anyway this pregnancy is a big relief but I so not want to use this continuously as a way out. I need a permanent or natural solution. Otherwise this will disrupt my trying to work, get an education or raising my children
    Advice please!

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    • I forgot to mention I also suffer from terrible migraines that forces me to use motrin like it’s candy! The migraines adds on to disrupting the lives of me and my kids right along with the other symptoms caused by my period.

      Reply

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