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Having a period is one of the biological processes experienced differently by different women. In some women, however, menstruation is quite troublesome and has to be treated to bring relief and prevent the development of secondary medical conditions in them.

The reduction in the number of days of a period is medically known as “therapeutic amenorrhea”. It was initially done to reduce the severity of menstrual symptoms in women. Nowadays, it is also opted by women without such symptoms, as it has been suggested to improve the quality of life and increase productivity. Most women who opt for ending their periods soon take medications, however, some natural foods and vitamin supplements may also help with it. The side effects of long-term use of these medicines are unclear, but these methods are widely accepted by women across the world.

  1. Introduction
  2. Conditions and reasons for ending periods soon
  3. How to end period early naturally
  4. Medicines to end periods early
  5. Side effects of medicines to stop periods
  6. Surgery to stop periods early

A few years ago, reducing the duration of menstrual cycles was only recommended for women who had severe menstrual symptoms such as dysmenorrhea (period pain), menorrhagia (heavy bleeding), severe menstrual cramps and other underlying health conditions which may cause an exacerbation in these symptoms. But recently, the high marketing of these products has convinced a large number of women to cut a few days off their regular menses. This article discusses the various ways of ending periods early with the use of prescribed medications and some natural foods having this potential. Their associated side effects are also mentioned.

According to the “International Journal of Women’s Health”, the most common reasons for which menstrual suppression is advised are as follows:

Diseases and conditions of the reproductive system

Some conditions and diseases related to the pelvic and reproductive organs for which doctors recommend a therapeutic amenorrhea are as follows:

  • Chronic pain in the pelvic region
    Women who have this condition experience pelvic pain with or without periods, making it worse during menstruation.
     
  • Endometriosis
    The growth of the endometrium (the inner lining of the uterus) into places and organs other than the uterus such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the abdominal cavity is known as endometriosis. When a woman suffering from endometriosis is on her period, the endometrium sheds resulting in bleeding in the uterus as well as other places of abnormal endometrial growth. As a result, the menses get extremely painful. Pain may also be experienced without periods because of the abnormal endometrial growth.
     
  • Dysmenorrhea
    Most women experience mild to moderate pain during the initial days of their period. However, in some women, this pain is very severe and debilitating. This is known as dysmenorrhea.
     
  • Menorrhagia
    According to NHS, the normal duration of menses is 2 to 7 days. However, some women experience heavy bleeding and their period lasts for more than a week. This is known as menorrhagia.
     
  • Irregular menstrual bleeding
    There are some reproductive diseases in which regular release of the ovum (egg) does not occur such as in PCOS (Polycystic ovarian syndrome) causing irregular bleeding and hormonal imbalance. The ovaries in such women are dysfunctional and the duration of menstrual cycles varies.
     
  • Severe menstrual symptoms
    There are a lot of women who experience severe symptoms during their period. They not only have severe pain, but also other associated symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headaches, severe muscle cramps, breast pain and heavy bleeding among others.
     
  • Blood-related disorders
    • Clotting disorders: When the blood does not clot within the normal range of clotting time, it is known as a clotting disorder. Some women who suffer from such disorders due to a deficiency of clotting factors also suffer from prolonged periods. This happens because the endometrium takes a lot of time to clot after its shedding resulting in an excessive blood loss.
    • Anaemia and bleeding disorders: Women with anaemia or other bleeding disorders such as Sickle cell disease, von Willebrand disease, haemophilia, and others, experience prolonged bleeding during menses which further leads to the worsening of anaemia symptoms due to excessive blood loss.
    • Reduced platelets: In platelet disorders such as thrombocytopenia, in which the body is not able to produce enough platelets, the bleeding time gets prolonged. The deficient platelets fail to stop the bleeding normally. Hence, women who suffer from this disease may experience prolonged periods.
       
  • Cancer
    If a woman is suffering from cancer, she may have to undergo chemotherapy. The medicines used for the treatment of cancer hamper the normal functioning of the body and lead to a reduction in their physical strength. Owing to decreased body strength, the woman’s ability to bear menstrual symptoms decreases. This may result in severe pain, heavy bleeding, nausea, vomiting, and exacerbation of other menstrual symptoms.

Mental health-related problems

Mental health disorders such as anxiety, stress, depression and bipolar disorder have adverse effects on the reproductive health. Hormonal changes and ovulation disorders in such women increase the risk of experiencing severe menstrual symptoms.

Diseases of the nerves

Neurologic diseases such as migraine and seizures reduce the woman’s threshold for pain and may also increase the intensity of her cramps. Thus, such women have a hard time in tolerating menstrual discomfort.

Other diseases related to menstrual exacerbations

There are certain diseases which have been found to have an effect on menstrual experience. Studies suggest that these diseases may result in worsening of the menstrual symptoms in such women. These include:

Professional causes

Sometimes, due to professional reasons, some women may need to decrease the duration of their cycle to ensure better performance at work. In others, a keen eye and good focus are important to deliver the best results. Some of these professions are:

  • Military or defence forces
  • Athletics
  • Aviation and aerospace jobs such as pilots, astronauts, and their cabin crew.

There are some natural foods and vitamin supplements, which when consumed for a prolonged duration may help in reducing the number of period days. According to a comprehensive review of the biomedical literature on menorrhagia, following are the dietary supplements and herbs which may help in reducing the bleeding and ending your period early:

Vitamin A

Taking Vitamin A supplements has been shown to reduce the number of period days. The maximum dose of Vitamin A is 3000 mcg for adults. A higher dosage is recommended to end periods early. It is recommended to consult a doctor to understand this dosage.

Iron

Most of you may not be aware that a deficiency of iron may lead to heavy menstrual bleeding, sometimes increasing the duration of your period days. Therefore, incorporating iron-rich foods in your diet such as blackstrap molasses, raisins, Brewer’s yeast, spinach, eggs, beans, may help to shorten your periods by a day or two.

Vitamin B complex

When the body has a deficiency of vitamin B complex, the function of the liver is reduced. As a result, the liver is not able to inactivate the estrogen hormone responsible for menstruation. Hence, taking vitamin B complex supplements each day might help in reducing the length of your period.

Vitamin C and Bioflavonoids

Vitamin C and bioflavonoids not only reduce heavy bleeding but also aid a better absorption of iron from the diet. They help in reducing the breakage of the capillary walls. Hence, including foods rich in Vitamin C and bioflavonoids such as citrus fruits (lemon, orange, mango, tomatoes, and more) and vegetables (broccoli, potatoes, cauliflower, spinach, and other green vegetables) may help in ending your period soon. You may also take vitamin C supplements on a daily basis. The maximum daily dosage of vitamin C is 75 mg for adult females and 65 mg for adolescent girls.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is an important nutrient for the mechanism of clotting. Although many women have normal bleeding and clotting time, the use of vitamin K supplements may actually help those who have mild clotting problems. The daily dosage for adolescent girls is 75 mcg per day and for adult women is 90 mcg per day. However, for ending a period, these dosages may be increased by your doctor according to your health, weight, height, and other medical conditions.

Other methods

A few other methods which may be effective in reducing the number of period days include exercise, massage, heat therapy, having an orgasm, drinking more water among others. These may be beneficial in reducing your period duration because:

  • exercise makes your endometrial lining shed faster and earlier, thus, reducing the number of period days.
  • heat therapy and massage in the pelvic area help to relax your uterine muscles and improve blood circulation. Although they have been found to be very helpful in relieving period pain, they may or may not aid in the reduction in the duration of menses.
  • having an orgasm during menses also helps in shedding the endometrial lining fast besides relieving your pelvic pain.

According to the 'International Journal of Women’s Health', various treatment options that can be deployed depending on the preferences of women and her health condition are:

Continuous combined oral contraceptive pills

These contraceptive pills are multiple formulations of hormones which are taken orally each day without having to take placebo tablets (also known as an extended-cycle)

Vaginal contraceptive ring

A vaginal contraceptive ring has a combination of hormones. It is placed in the vagina for slowly releasing the hormones over a duration of a month. It is changed on a monthly basis.

Transdermal combination contraceptives

Transdermal combination contraceptives are patches which are placed just below the dermis (layer beneath the skin). They slowly release the hormone in the underlying tissues, which is then absorbed by the bloodstream. These are meant to be implanted in the skin every week.

Progestins

These are oral contraceptive pills which mainly contain the hormone progesterone. For best results, these pills have to be taken daily.

DMPA (Depot medroxyprogesterone acetate)

DMPA contains progesterone, which is quite similar to the natural hormone produced by the body. It is given every twelve weeks by injection.

Danazol

Danazol is a steroid medicine which targets the pituitary gland and ovaries to prevent or control the release of sex hormones. They must be taken orally each day.

Progestin-containing intrauterine system

These are placed in the uterus to release levonorgestrel. The devices are placed in the uterus for a period of five years, following which they are replaced.

GnRH analogues

GnRH analogues are hormones similar to the natural gonadotropin-releasing hormone. They may be taken orally, by injections, or as implants which slowly release the hormone over a period of time. Depending upon the route of administration, these may either be taken daily or every twelve weeks.

Other medicines

Other medicines which may help in providing relief from the menstrual symptoms include the use of over-the-counter painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs, especially NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen, paracetamol, naproxen. They may also be used for ending your periods early since they reduce inflammation. Other medicines used for the treatment of underlying diseases such as diabetes, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, or infections may also be helpful.

Most of the above-mentioned medicines have similar side effects. These are:

  • Risk of venous thromboembolism (formation of a clot in the veins), especially after prolonged use of continuous combined oral contraceptives.
  • Skin reactions.
  • Weight gain.
  • A decrease in the bone density.
  • Irregular menstrual bleeding.
  • Breakthrough menstrual bleeding which does not stop for many days.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Breast pain.

Women who suffer from diseases of the reproductive system such as endometriosis, fibroids, polyps, and other abnormal growths have to undergo a surgery to treat these diseases and improve their menstrual symptoms. Some women may also need to get their uterus removed in extreme cases. This leads to a permanent cessation of periods.

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References

  1. Paula Adams Hillard. Menstrual suppression: current perspectives. Int J Womens Health. 2014; 6: 631–637. PMID: 25018654
  2. Anna B. Livdans-Forret, DC, Phyllis J. Harvey, M.Ln, Susan M. Larkin-Thier. Menorrhagia: A synopsis of management focusing on herbal and nutritional supplements, and chiropractic. J Can Chiropr Assoc. 2007 Dec; 51(4): 235–246. PMID: 18060009
  3. Powell-Dunford NC et al. Menstrual suppression for combat operations: advantages of oral contraceptive pills. Womens Health Issues. 2011 Jan-Feb;21(1):86-91. PMID: 21185993
  4. Office on Women's Health [Internet] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Menstrual Cycle.
  5. National Women's Health Network. Using Birth Control to Regulate or Skip Your Period. [Internet]