It’s fair to say that few women look forward to getting their period, so it may be surprising that so many have used methods to bring it on sooner.
There are various reasons why a woman might wish to induce her menstrual cycle. Perhaps she wants to get her period over and done with before a holiday or a special occasion. Maybe she has an irregular cycle and wants more predictability so that she can plan a pregnancy. Perhaps her period is delayed, and this is causing her to feel stressed or worried.
Whatever the reason, there are a number of methods that may help.
A typical menstrual cycle is considered to be 21 to 35 days.
The absence of menstruation is called amenorrhea. Girls who haven’t started their periods by the age of 15 and women who have missed three or more periods in a row have amenorrhea.
There are several possible causes of delayed or missing periods:
- low or high body weight
- PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)
- hormonal contraceptives
- chronic conditions such as diabetes or celiac disease
- thyroid issues
Substances that can help to induce a period are called emmenagogues. Readers should be aware that some emmenagogues are also abortifacients. An abortifacient is a substance that can cause miscarriages in pregnancy.
If there’s any chance your period is late because you are pregnant, you should be aware that using emmenagogues to induce a period may terminate your pregnancy, and this can be very dangerous.
If there’s any chance you are pregnant, these are not for you.
If you are trying any herbs, buy from a reputable source. The FDA doesn’t monitor herbs like they do food and drugs, and there may be concerns with quality or purity, especially if the herbs are produced in other countries.
It’s very difficult to find any reliable scientific evidence for the idea that vitamin C (also called ascorbic acid) can induce your period. However, it seems to be a common belief that it can.
It’s thought that vitamin C can elevate your estrogen levels and lower progesterone levels. This, in turn, causes the uterus to contract and the lining of the uterus to break down, leading to the onset of menstruation.
To try this method, you can take vitamin supplements or simply eat lots of foods that contain vitamin C. Citrus fruits, berries, black currants, broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, red and green peppers, and tomatoes are all good sources of vitamin C.
If taking supplements, be careful to stick within the recommended safety limit — too much vitamin C can be dangerous.
Some believe that taking two crushed up aspirins in half a cup of water with some sugar and honey may help to induce your period. However, there seems to be no scientific evidence supporting this claim, and the rationale behind it is unclear.
Aspirin can act as a blood thinner, and this may lead to heavier periods. However, it seems unlikely that it could affect the timing of menstruation.
Ginger is a traditional remedy for inducing periods and is believed to cause uterine contractions. However, this remains unproven, though there has been some research into the effect of ginger on painful periods.
Ginger is unpleasant to eat raw, so the easiest way to take it is to make ginger tea. To use this method, boil a fresh piece of peeled, sliced ginger in a pan of water for five to seven minutes. Strain the tea and add honey or sugar to taste before drinking.
Parsley contains high levels of vitamin C as well as apiol, which may help to stimulate uterine contractions. However, apiol is also toxic in certain amounts and is especially dangerous to pregnant women. You shouldn’t drink the tea if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have kidney problems.
To make parsley tea, simply pour a cup of boiling water over a couple tablespoons of fresh parsley and allow it to steep for about five minutes before drinking.
Turmeric is another traditional remedy believed by some to be an emmenagogue. It’s supposed to work by affecting estrogen and progesterone levels, although scientific research is required to prove this.
There are many ways to include turmeric in your diet. It can be added to curries, rice, or vegetable dishes or used to make a warming drink by adding it to water or milk with other spices and sweeteners.
Dong quai is an herb native to China and a that’s been used for hundreds of years. It’s thought to work by improving blood flow to the pelvis as well as by stimulating the muscles in the uterus and triggering uterine contractions.
Dong quai can be purchased in capsule or powder form.
Black cohosh is another herbal supplement that you can buy to help regulate the menstrual cycle. It’s said to help tone the uterus and promote the shedding of the uterine lining.
Black cohosh is known to interact with many medications.
It is not recommended for people who are on blood pressure or heart medications or who have a history of liver problems.
Stress can sometimes be the cause of a delayed or missed period. When we feel stressed, we may produce hormones such as cortisol or adrenaline.
These can inhibit the production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which are essential to maintaining a regular menstrual cycle.
The antidote to stress is relaxation. There are many ways to relieve stress and promote relaxation, and what works best will vary between individuals. Suggestions include:
- reducing workload
- spending time with friends and family
- engaging in an enjoyable hobby
- using meditation or mindfulness techniques
Warm compress or bath
A warm bath can do wonders for relaxing tight muscles and relieving emotional stress. Perhaps this is the reason for anecdotal reports that this can help to bring on your period.
Try adding some relaxing scented oil to a bath for added effect. You could also try using a warm compress such as a hot water bottle by applying it to the abdomen. The heat isn’t only relaxing. It may also increase blood flow to the area, thus gently accelerating the menstrual cycle.
Having sexual intercourse can help to trigger your period. Semen contains prostaglandins, which act upon the woman’s cervix, causing it to soften and dilate.
When a woman has an orgasm, this also causes her cervix to dilate. This causes a vacuum that can pull the menstrual blood down.
Regular sex can also reduce the effects of stress and help to promote a healthy hormonal balance.
Reducing exercise if you’re an athlete
Too much exercise can cause irregular, delayed, or missed periods. Runners, weight lifters, and other athletes who train on a daily basis may experience this problem. This is because exercise can decrease estrogen levels and cause your periods to stop.
A more long-term solution to the problem of irregular periods is to use a hormonal contraceptive. By controlling the levels of hormones in the body, these contraceptives can bring a degree of certainty over when your period will arrive.
These can also come with side effects. Speak to your doctor before deciding if this is something you would like to try.
It’s important to remember that missing or delayed periods may be symptoms of an underlying problem. For this reason, it’s sometimes wise to go and see your doctor. You should seek medical advice if:
- you suspect you may be pregnant
- you miss three periods in a row
- your periods stop before the age of 45
- you’re still having periods after the age of 55
- you experience bleeding in between periods or after sex
- your periods suddenly change, become much heavier, or are more erratic
- you experience postmenopausal bleeding (bleeding more than 12 months after your periods have stopped)
- you experience bleeding while on hormone replacement therapy