Your relationship with your period is totally personal. For some, it may feel like a monthly moon journey full of potential. For others, it can be a regular reminder that menstruating can suck. But are there ways to put a full stop to your period?
In short: yes.
How can you stop your period?
Whether you just want to take a long-term break from periods or want to be permanently period-free, there are options like:
- continuous oral contraceptive pills
- injected hormonal contraception
- hormonal intrauterine device (IUD)
- testosterone therapy
- endometrial ablation
These interventions can have side effects, so it’s important to discuss each with a healthcare professional before you choose them.
If you’ve found yourself wishing your flow would dry up for good, there are solutions.
A number of hormone-based contraceptive methods (like the good ol’ Pill) can ixnay your period for the short term or the long term. While hormonal methods of controlling your period are usually effective and reversible, some people experience unpredictable bleeding while using them.
Birth control pills
The pill has plenty of benefits outside of contraception (if it doesn’t cause uncomfortable side effects), from contraception to lighter periods. The standard configuration of a month’s worth of pills is 21 days of low-dose hormones that prevent ovulation.
The fourth week of pills uses “blanks” with no active ingredients that allow withdrawal bleeding (your period, sort of) to happen. Skipping the blank pills and starting on a new pack means your period probably won’t show.
Some brands of birth control come packaged with continuous active pills to help you go 2, 3, or more months before taking a break for a period. If you have the access and budget for more regular packages of pills, you can choose how long to skip your period.
Unexpected bleeding could occur while you’re on the pill, though. About 70 percent of people experience no period after a year of continuous birth control pills.
Basically, the patch works the same way as the pill, but hormones are delivered through a weekly patch applied to your skin.
Instead of skipping a patch to have your period, you just continue to use them throughout the month. Breakthrough bleeding is still possible.
Like the patch, the continuous use of a hormonal contraceptive vaginal ring can suppress periods. Breakthrough bleeding is more likely, and your period will return when you stop using the ring.
The levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system is a small device inserted in your uterus that also releases hormones to prevent pregnancy. The IUD lasts up to 5 years but can be removed at any time. After 1 year, 50 percent of users have no periods, and after 5 years, 60 percent no longer have periods.
The levonorgestrel IUD is helpful for people with endometriosis or heavy periods, reducing menstrual bleeding by up to 96 percent after 1 year. Irregular bleeding for the first 3 to 6 months is likely.
Injections of another contraceptive, depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA), are given every 12 weeks. About 50 percent of users experience amenorrhea (no periods!) after a year of shots. That rate goes up to 70 percent after 2 years.
A tiny rod can be implanted under your skin to release hormones and prevent pregnancy for up to 5 years. After 1 year with the implant, about one-third of users stop having periods.
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) has high rates of stopping periods in those who use it. It’s not a miracle drug, though. It can lead to low estrogen levels that cause menopausal symptoms, and you may need estrogen therapy to help you manage these effects.
This treatment’s benefits really start to show after 6 months of use, and your periods will return after you stop taking it.
Other period-pausing pills
In one study, selective progesterone receptor modulators (SPRMs) treated heavy menstrual bleeding in people with uterine fibroids. An SPRM called ulipristal acetate (UPA) induced amenorrhea in users at a rate of 70 percent. Geddem, UPA!
A drug called Danazol is intended to treat endometriosis and fibrocystic breast disease, but it also often induces amenorrhea.
Is it safe to skip periods forever?
Like most medical decisions, choosing a treatment to stop periods requires some cost/benefit analysis.
There are risks and side effects for the medications listed above. These include:
- increased risk of blood clots
- loss of bone density
- perimenopausal and other hormonal symptoms
The best way to assess your risk of skipping your periods indefinitely is to talk with your OB-GYN.
People who don’t want to use hormonal treatments or are looking to stop periods with a single procedure may choose a surgical option like endometrial ablation or hysterectomy.
It sounds serious, but endometrial ablation is actually minimally invasive, relatively painless, and fast.
For this outpatient procedure, your doctor will use a tool that gives off energy, lasers, heat, or cold to destroy the endometrium in your uterus (the lining that grows and sheds during your period).
About 15 to 72 percent of patients experience amenorrhea within a year after ablation. Your period may eventually return, and you can choose to have another ablation procedure.
Having your uterus removed is kind of the holy grail of permanent period stoppage. While you’ll never have to worry about having a period again, there are risks associated with this major surgery. And it is permanent, closing off all future possibilities of pregnancy.
If your period troubles are related to hormonal symptoms rather than bleeding itself, a hysterectomy may not be your best option. Usually, your ovaries stay intact and continue to produce hormones.
You may still be wondering if there’s a magic pill to transport you far away from Periodville forever. Not exactly. Your best options for medications to stop periods are those listed above, but you have to keep taking them, and surprise bleeding is always a possibility.
The packaging for one birth control pill under the brand name Lybrel suggests it intends to prevent periods as long as you take it. Unlike regular or seasonal birth control pills, they don’t include any placebo pills to allow for an occasional period.
Trans men and nonbinary peeps may opt for testosterone therapy as part of their transition or to stop periods. Research shows that weekly intramuscular injections of 20 to 40 mg of testosterone effectively stopped periods for 55 percent of users within 6 months and for 93 percent in 1 year.
Testosterone therapy will also bring on masculine secondary sex characteristics like hair growth and a deeper voice
If you want to stop having periods, for a little while, a long while, or forever, there are options to help you achieve that goal.
Hormonal contraceptive methods can suppress periods indefinitely and surgical options will stop periods without the need for medication.
A hysterectomy may be the only guaranteed way to stop periods permanently. With information from your doctor, you can decide which option is best for you.