So, Aunt Flo is back in town, and she’s overstaying her welcome. Or maybe, she wasn’t a wanted guest in the first place.
The average menstrual cycle is about 28 days, and the actual period part ranges from 2 to 7 days. Sometimes it’s light and livable. Other times, you feel like you’re living in the wave of blood from “The Shining.”
Whether you have an important event, or you’re just sick of dealing with it, periods can be super inconvenient. Thankfully, there might be some ways to expedite “that time of the month.”
- having sex
- choosing an alternative to a tampon
- using hormonal birth control
- reaching and maintaining a healthy body weight
- nutritional supplements, such as zinc and vitamin B6
- staying hydrated
- trying herbal remedies
- contraceptive implants
- receiving shots of progestin
- taking the combined pill regularly
- using an intrauterine device (IUD)
FYI: Keep in mind, there aren’t enough studies or proven methods to support speeding up your period.
These 12 tips are based on theories about how your body works and what is likely to happen, but they haven’t been extensively tested.
1. Ah, ah, ah, I work out
Healthy cardio and workout routines can help lighten your period. Exercising also alleviates cramps and bloating because it pumps you up with happy chemicals and lessens water retention.
Working out may also reduce the length of your period because stronger muscles help your cycle function faster. But remember, burning too much body fat can be risky. Keep it balanced for a healthy, happy uterus.
2. Come on
Orgasms create uterine muscle contractions — the fun kind, not the giving birth kind. The contractions make your uterus shed faster while moving menstrual blood away from your pelvis.
This helps reduce cramping and can make your period end faster. So, whether you’re flying solo or you have a helping hand, have an orgasm (or five). You gotta do what you gotta do.
3. Tampons: friend or foe?
Whether you prefer pads, tampons, or menstrual cups, do your thing. But you should know tampons can make your period last longer. Menstrual blood is designed to flow down (thanks gravity!), and tampons can slow the process.
This is a major bummer if you’re not on team sanitary napkin. But if you’re really trying to move things along, skip the tampons and try an alternative.
4. Birth control options galore
Birth control isn’t just for keeping your eggo not preggo. Hormonal birth control helps regulate your cycle. In addition to easing cramps and other messy menstrual symptoms, it helps shorten the duration of your period.
Some hormonal options, like the Depo-Provera shot, can stop your period for months at a time. Keep in mind, it can take a few months for the full effect to kick in. Definitely talk to your doctor about what’s best for you.
5. Maintain a healthy weight
People in larger bodies may have heavier flows and more irregular cycles than those with an average BMI, in addition to dealing with escalated period pain and bloating. One study showed that these symptoms may happen because a surplus of fat cells can increase estrogen levels.
On the other hand, people with a low weight run the risk of menstrual mayhem. One 1989 study showed that menstrual dysfunction is common in people living with eating disorders, like bulimia and anorexia nervosa.
Additionally, maintaining a healthy body weight helps regulate your cycle and can make your periods more livable.
6. Nutritional supplements
Another study showed that around 90 milligrams of zinc (30 milligrams taken three times per day) can ease discomfort. You can also add more zinc-y foods to your diet like seeds, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and meat.
Another potential helper is vitamin B6. A 1983 study found that vitamin B6 lowers estrogen and increases progesterone, normalizing menstrual hormones. This can reduce the duration of your period while easing PMS symptoms.
Around 200 to 800 milligrams per day in supplemental form can do the trick. Talk to your doctor about the best dosage for you.
A report also found that combining vitamin B6 with magnesium can be super effective. About 300 milligrams of magnesium per day can kick your cramps to the curb.
7. Drink water
Dehydration can escalate PMS and period discomfort, so drink up. Hydration prevents your blood from thickening while alleviating the muscle cramps associated with your monthly flow.
Additionally, drinking water can help end your cycle faster. Eight glasses, or 64 ounces per day, really works wonders.
8. Herbal options
Herbal remedies have been debated over the years, but some people find natural treatments effective. Certain plants and herbs may help ease your cramping and quicken your flow. Some options include:
- Myrtle fruit syrup: It’s a lesser-known fact that these fruit (and leaves) may have potential health benefits. One study showed that 15 milliliters of syrup taken daily decreased the number of bleeding days in study participants while also decreasing discomfort.
- Ginger: One 2012 study showed that ginger’s natural anti-inflammatory properties help alleviate cramps and may prevent heavy bleeding. Around 1500 milligrams per day is recommended.
- Fennel seeds: One research review showed that fennel has an analgesic effect. So, it inhibits period pain. It also helps to release menstrual blood faster, potentially leading to a quicker period.
- Plantain syrup: On top of being delicious, plantains can also be tried as a treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding. Add a tablespoon of plantain syrup to your morning routine, and see if it works for you.
- Raspberry leaf: Raspberry leaves have a folkloric history of alleviating heavy menstrual flows. A 2003 research review showed that raspberry leaves’ astringent properties can also help reduce diarrhea brought on by PMS.
You’ve already had a rundown on birth control. Now it’s time to talk about menstrual suppression. Hormonal options may reduce menstrual bleeding or stop it completely.
This may be particularly important if you’re living with bleeding disorders such asvon Willebrand disease and thrombocytopenia. Hormonal options are also a common intervention for those with uterine fibroids,endometriosis, or naturally heavy menstrual flows.
Here’s what you need to know.
9. Contraceptive implants
This is a thin rod, about the size of a match, that’s inserted under the skin of your upper arm. It works by releasing progestin into the body for up to 3 years.
The implant can regulate your period and reduce your flow over time. It’s also extremely effective at preventing pregnancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the implants has a 0.01 percent failure rate. Not too shabby.
10. Progestin shots
According to a 2007 research review, these shots suppress your period while acting as a contraceptive. In order for them to work, you’ll need a 150 milligram injection every 12 weeks. Your period may disappear, but spotting is a common side effect.
11. The combined pill
Combined pills contain estrogen and progestogen. This helps regulate hormonal fluctuations, making your cycle more predictable. One research review showed that over time, this pill can reduce the days of your period while reducing your flow.
There are a ton of varieties on the market, so talk to your doctor about which is best for you.
Intrauterine devices (aka IUDs) are inserted into your uterus and last anywhere between 3 and 10 years, depending on the brand. Studies show that hormonal IUDs can reduce blood loss better than oral contraceptives.
Insertion pain varies from person to person, but the good news is, it’s a very quick procedure. Plus, you won’t have to worry about missing a pill.
According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, a common side effect of hormonal birth control is amenorrhea, which is when your period disappears for months at a time. Missing periods is common when you’re using hormonal contraceptives.
There’s no science to support claims that skipping periods is dangerous to you or your reproductive health. But if you start skipping periods, talk to your doctor just to make sure everything is still hunky-dory.
Keep in mind, there are some risks to hormonal methods. According to the American Cancer Society, women who’ve used hormonal birth control methods are slightly more inclined to get breast cancer and five times more likely to get cervical cancer.
Longer usage increases the risk. But… the American Cancer Society also notes, hormonal methods can reduce your risk of endometrial cancer, cervical cancer, and colon cancer.
As with anything, family history and other factors play a part. Talk to your doctor about risk factors before starting your treatment of choice.
People are powerful, but this power comes at a cost. Literally. Pads are expensive, y’all. And for some people, the monthly cycle brings on debilitating amounts of pain.
If your period is getting in the way of your health and/or happiness, it may be time to be proactive. There’s no one size fits all way to surf the crimson wave. It might take some trial and error to figure out what works best for you, but it’ll be worth it in the end. Flow on!