People who get periods may regularly wish they could delay it.

Who hasn’t wanted to avoid a period while on vacation? And who wouldn’t desire to push it off a bit to avoid companion symptoms like breast tenderness and bloating during a big event?

If you search the internet for ways to naturally delay your period, you’ll be met with a plethora of ideas — from exercising to drinking vinegary water. But do any of them work?

We took a look at the research around naturally delaying the start of a period, and we break down the ways that could work — because they’re backed by science — and the ways that probably won’t.

Natural remedySafe to try?Proven to work?
apple cider vinegarcould have side effectsno
gram lentilsyesno
lemon juicecould have side effectsno
gelatincould have side effectsno
exercisedepends on the type, intensity, and duration of exerciseno

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has been touted as a miracle cure for acne, heartburn, and even belly fat.

Some of these cures are supported by research and some are not. So, it’s no wonder people also promote ACV as a cure-all for menstrual issues, like pain or bloating.

But as it turns out, there’s no research to support using ACV to delay your period. The only research that has looked at the impact of ACV on menstruation is in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

But this study found that ACV may actually cause menstruation in women who haven’t had normalized reproductive cycles because of blood sugar and hormonal imbalances. There’s no evidence ACV will stop a period.

Frequent doses of apple cider vinegar might also have negative impact on your teeth and delicate tissues of your mouth and throat.

Don’t drink ACV straight from the bottle. Dilute it with water or another liquid to make it both safer and more palatable.

Gram lentils

Anecdotal reports say consuming gram lentils in the days just before your period may push it back. These reports suggest you fry the lentils until soft, then grind them into a fine powder. You can also simply purchase gram lentil flour. Consume the powder in a smoothie or soup.

There’s no research to support this, however, and the extra fiber might cause some stomach distress, bloating, and extra flatulence.

Lemon juice

Lemon juice, like apple cider vinegar, is a highly acidic food. It’s unclear why anecdotal reports suggest the citrus fruit might help push back bleeding. There is also no research to support it.

What’s more, foods with a lot of acid can irritate your teeth, gums, mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines. If you try this technique, be sure to water down the lemon in a glass of water or unsweetened tea.

Gelatin

Dissolving gelatin in warm water and drinking it is said to push back the start of your period for about four hours. If you need a longer window of relief, you’ll have to keep repeating the gelatin treatment.

It’s unclear why gelatin is promoted as a natural way to delay the start of your period, and there’s no research to support it. Drinking large amounts of gelatin may have some side effects, such as bloating or digestive distress.

Exercise

Excessive exercise may delay the start of a period. People with periods who engage in heavy physical activity or exertion in the days before a period may notice it doesn’t begin on time.

This could be a result of low-energy availability. When your body has used a great deal of its energy to both exercise and recover, it may not have the energy reserves to fulfill the menstrual cycle.

Professional athletes frequently lose their period.

However, there’s no research to support using exercise to purposefully delay a period. It’s only been shown to do it, and often as an unintended consequence.

Despite the lack of evidence for many of the natural ways people try to delay a period, there’s some non-natural remedies that work. They typically involve hormonal contraception.

Norethisterone

Norethindrone (norethisterone) is a prescription medicine that can delay the start of a period.

Your doctor my prescribe you three tablets a day, starting three to four days before you expect your period to begin. Once you stop taking the medicine, your period should begin within two to three days.

This medicine is considered a contraceptive, but you wouldn’t be using it long enough to have those benefits.

If you intend to have sex while taking the medicine, you’ll need to use another form of contraceptive, such as a condom, to prevent pregnancy.

Side effects include nausea, headache, breast tenderness, and mood disturbances. People with a history of blood clotting disorders should not take this medicine.

Birth control pill

If you use a progesterone-estrogen combo pill as birth control, you can delay your period by skipping the placebo pills (the seven-day break when you typically bleed) and beginning your new pack of pills right away.

Be sure to check with your doctor before doing this.

If you’re unsure how to do this, ask your doctor or a pharmacist. These health care providers can explain when to do this and how to proceed with the next pack.

Many people use birth control for longer periods of time than the 21-day pack, and there’s few risks associated with continuous use of combined hormonal pills.

In fact, before packs were approved by the Food and Drug Administration for long-term period suppression, doctors would tell their patients how to use the traditionally packaged pills to skip periods.

Some of the natural methods for delaying a period can cause side effects. Lemon juice and ACV may irritate sensitive tissues in your mouth and throats. They can also weaken enamel on your teeth. Gelatin and gram lentils may cause bloating and discomfort in your stomach.

Both natural and chemical remedies for delaying a period may not work. If they don’t, you could have a period anyway. Irregular bleeding or spotting might also happen, even when there’s not a full period.

If you need to halt your period for any reason, talk with a doctor about your options. Most of the natural remedies are safe to try, though no research proves they’re effective.

Non-natural remedies may be the most effective, but you need a prescription for those. If you already take birth control pills, your doctor can also tell you how to use the contraceptive to delay the start of your period.