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. Or her period could be delayed, 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:

Substances that can help to induce a period are called emmenagogues. Be aware that some emmenagogues are also abortifacients. An abortifacient is a substance that can cause miscarriages in pregnancy.

Pregnancy warning If there’s any chance your period is late because you are pregnant, using emmenagogues to induce a period may terminate your pregnancy. This can be very dangerous. If there’s any chance you are pregnant, do not take these substances.

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 outside of the United States.

Vitamin C

Some people believe that vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, can induce your period. But there isn’t any reliable scientific evidence to back up this claim.

It’s thought that vitamin C can elevate your estrogen levels and lower progesterone levels. This 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 stay within the recommended safety limit — too much vitamin C can be dangerous.

Pineapple

Pineapple is a rich source of bromelain, an enzyme believed to affect estrogen and other hormones.

A 2017 study suggests bromelain may help reduce inflammation. This means it could help causes of irregular periods related to inflammation.

However, there’s no scientific evidence that suggests pineapple or bromelain supplements will induce a period.

Ginger

Ginger is a traditional remedy for inducing periods and is believed to cause uterine contractions. However, this remains unproven by scientific research.

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

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 parsley 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

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 lacking.

There are many ways to include turmeric in your diet. You can add it to curries, rice, or vegetable dishes. Or you can add it to water or milk with other spices and sweeteners for a warming drink.

Dong quai

Dong quai is an herb native to China and a popular herbal remedy that’s been used for hundreds of years. It’s thought to help induce a period by improving blood flow to the pelvis as well as by stimulating the muscles in the uterus and triggering uterine contractions.

You can purchase dong quai in capsule or powder form online.

Black cohosh

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’s not recommended for people who are on blood pressure or heart medications or who have a history of liver problems.

If it’s safe for you to take, you can purchase black cohosh online.

Relaxation

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
  • exercising
  • 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.

Sex

Sexual activity can help to trigger your period in several ways.

Having an orgasm can cause your cervix to dilate. This creates a vacuum that can pull the menstrual blood down. This includes orgasm through penetrative and non-penetrative sexual activity.

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, weightlifters, 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.

Birth control

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. 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