It’s bound to happen occasionally: A vacation, day at the beach, or special occasion is going to coincide with your period. Rather than let this throw off your plans, it’s possible to end the menstruation process faster and reduce the number of days in your cycle.

There are a few techniques you can try to end your period more quickly. Some of these are safe to do monthly, but others require moderation or a doctor’s approval.

How long is a typical period?

  • The length of menstruation varies from woman to woman and is affected by many things, including stress, body mass index, and hormones. An average period can last from two to seven days, although some women have longer periods. Many women also experience a natural shortening of their cycle as they age. If women are on oral contraceptive agents (the pill) their periods often shorten and lighten.

Oral birth control pills and birth control injections can be used to regulate your cycle. Hormonal birth control can also decrease cramping and shorten the number of days you menstruate each month. If you’re just starting hormonal birth control, it may take several months before your periods become shorter.

Some kinds of hormonal contraception can reduce the number of menstrual cycles you have each year. For example, if you receive the Depo-Provera shot, you may stop having periods after the first year of injections.

Birth control pills and shots are available by prescription only. You and your doctor can determine which type is best for you, based on your lifestyle and medical needs.

Having an orgasm, either through intercourse or masturbation, can reduce cramping and menstrual flow. This is because orgasms generate uterine muscle contractions, which help to move menstrual blood from the uterus.

These contractions help the uterus shed the blood faster.

Maintaining a cardiovascular exercise routine not only promotes overall health, but also helps lighten your menstrual flow. It may also reduce the number of days you have your period. And, exercising can lessen water retention, which may alleviate bloating and reduce cramps.

Speak with your doctor about the best exercise plan for you. Excessive exercise can reduce too much body fat, which can lower your body mass index (BMI) to an unhealthy range.

This can adversely affect your hormonal health and cause you to stop menstruating, which have a negative impact on your reproductive health.

Weight fluctuations can affect your periods by making them inconsistent, such as the case with missed periods and low body fat. On the opposite side of the spectrum, it’s also possible to have heavier flows if you are overweight, or if you’re having difficulty maintaining your BMI.

In fact, obese women are at an increased risk of having heavier periods. Some women may even experience heavy, painful symptoms for weeks at a time. This is attributed to increased estrogen production from fat cells, which can make cycles heavier and longer.

If you’ve experienced heavy periods, you may want to speak with your doctor about possible hormone testing. They can also help give you some tips to lose weight safely and gradually, if you need to.

While this may not offer a short-term solution for ending your period faster now, taking steps to manage your weight will pay off for future menstrual cycles.

Certain micronutrients, such as B vitamins, are essential to your overall health. Certain nutrients can even ease up your periods while alleviating PMS symptoms.

Vitamin B6 is one of the nutrients that can affect your periods. It’s found naturally in foods such as eggs, fish, and poultry. Vitamin B6 has been found to increase progesterone while decreasing estrogen in the body. This can help improve pituitary gland function to normalize menstrual hormones.

One study found that zinc, an essential mineral, was helpful in alleviating painful period cramps (dysmenorrhea). It’s thought that zinc has similar effects as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen.

Study participants reported relief from cramps when they took 30 mg doses of zinc up to three times per day. You can also make sure to get enough zinc-rich foods in your diet, such as meat, legumes, and dairy.

Magnesium is another mineral that can potentially help alleviate long, painful periods because of its anti-cramping effects. One study found that a combination of magnesium and vitamin B6 was helpful in alleviating symptoms of PMS.

Talk to your doctor before taking any supplements to treat your periods. In the meantime, make sure you get enough magnesium in your diet via nuts, seeds, greens, and fish.

Certain herbal remedies may also help alleviate long and painful menstruation. More research is needed to back up herbal remedies, but it’s worth talking to your doctor about. Some of the most promising herbs for menstruation include:

When it comes to easing up your menstruation symptoms, staying hydrated is key.

If your water intake is below the eight glasses a day threshold, give yourself a boost during your period—this will help you experience fewer cramps and back aches. It can help move your cycle along more quickly, too. Drinking water helps prevent blood from thickening.

Ending your period faster on occasion isn’t a big deal, if you do it safely. If you want to shave a few days off your period because it appears to be longer than you think it should be every month, check in with your doctor.

If your periods typically last for more than a week, are very heavy, or cause painful cramps, you should talk with your doctor. These may be symptoms of an underlying medical condition.

Your doctor will work with you to determine what’s causing these symptoms and how to best move forward.