Yes, you can induce your period: a doctor explains how to do it

Here's what the experts say, including whether it's safe.

Yes, you can induce your period: a doctor explains how to do it

If you're Googling 'how to induce a period', it's pretty safe to assume you're keen to trick your body into thinking it's your time of the month.

And we do get it—there are dozens of reasons why you might be longing to bring the bleed forward. Whether it's to get it over and done with before a vacay, you're trying to make your cycle more regular, or you're worried that you've skipped a period altogether, everyone's reasoning can be totally different.

And while it may sound counterproductive - it's rare for a person to actively enjoy being on their period, complete with PMS and hormonal changes—some might feel it could be a good way to simply get it out of the way for the month.

But while we now know that yes, triggering your period early is a thing, is it actually something that a doctor would recommend doing from a medical perspective? (If so, we're pretty sure you're now invested regardless of whether it's on this month's agenda or not.)

To get the lowdown on how to induce menstruation (or at least encourage your period to start), we chatted with a few experts to see the reality of the process and whether it's really safe.

So, why would you want to induce a period?

As above and according to Dr Sushma Srikrishna, consultant gynaecologist at London Bridge Hospital, part of HCA Healthcare UK, there are loads of explanations as to why.

"People might want to do this for different reasons, such as regulating irregular periods, treating certain medical conditions, or managing fertility treatments," she says.

"The commonest reason to induce a period in practice is when there has been a long delay between periods [oligomenorrhoea] or a lack of periods [amenorrhea]."

"Sometimes, people may also choose to intentionally delay their period if they have an upcoming holiday or important event and want to avoid menstruating during that time."

It's important to understand the difference between these two options though, she adds.

According to Cheryl Lythgoe, matron at Benenden Health, for those who have heavy, frequent, or irregular periods, the need to bring on a period can be really important.

And Dr Tiffany Pam, medical provider at menstrual tracking app Flo, argues: "Menstrual manipulation should only be done under the supervision or guidance of your medical provider."

How can I induce a period?
There are loads of myths and old wives' tales surrounding inducing your period, but which actually have credibility? i.e. which aren't total BS?

Vitamin C

"Many people discuss the benefits of diet to control your periods," explains matron Lythgoe. "Increasing vitamin C, for example, is meant to help. The vitamin C is meant to effect your oestrogen and progesterone hormones," she shares.

Sadly, however, she adds that there isn’t any research on this or other food groups (pineapple, ginger, parsley, etc) that backs the claim up, which is the case for many natural remedies. So we wouldn't advise going down the foods or Vitamin C route if you're looking to trigger your period.

Lifestyle changes

Relaxation, exercise, and even orgasms are all rumoured to speed up the start of your period. "This is only if it's due, and is still just that—a rumour," matron Lythgoe caveats. Noted.

Hormonal medication

The only reliable method for controlling periods, according to both medical professionals, is hormonal medication. "Medically, once a thorough assessment has been made, the combined contraceptive pill works well to alter your period cycle," explains Lythgoe.

"There are various types of contraceptives that can be used but generally, to induce your period, your medical provider will likely recommend some form of progestin based therapy," adds Dr Pam. "This type of medical therapy includes only progesterone. Alternatively, depending on the reason you need your period induced, a combination of medications with Mifeprostone and Misoprostol can also be used to induce a period."

On the flip side, she adds: "To delay your period, there are various hormonal therapies that may be used, ranging from combined oral contraceptives, to progestin only therapies in the form of an injection, IUD, or oral pills. Gonadotropin-releasing hormone type therapies can also be used as an alternative. The type or formulation of medication that is used will depend on the reason your period needs to be induced or delayed."

Is it sensible to induce a period?

According to Matron Lythgoe, nowadays, it's way more common for a woman to induce her monthly(ish) bleed. "For young people who haven’t yet started their period or those who want to support their fertility, then it's worth discussing period induction," she recommends. A robust consultation and sometimes other diagnostic tests may be required, but your doctor will be able to talk you through the right options for you, she says.

"The vast majority of situations can be safely managed with advice and medication. While not a 100% guaranteed outcome, period control is achievable for many. Having the option to plan your cycle can provide you with choices: let’s just make sure those choices are safe, credible, and planned," she adds.

What happens to your body when you induce a period?

Periods occur because our main fertility hormones—that's oestrogen and progesterone—go through a well-rehearsed dance, rising and falling at particular times within our cycle.

"Using specifically targeted hormonal medication chemically manages these hormonal peaks and troughs, and signals the uterus to shed its lining," explains Lythgoe.

When you induce a period, it can alter:

- The  nature of your period
- The  rate of your flow
- The number of days you bleed
- The regularity of your normal cycle

Or, you can choose to remain on hormonal contraception. "Then you can actively manage as and when you bleed," explains the matron.

But don't expect inducing yout period to fix any problems you may have had with your cycle, Dr Pam adds: "The induction of your period does not alter your fertility status nor does it fix any underlying medical condition that affects your hormone function.

"Your medical provider may induce your period for a variety of reasons related to your medical condition, to diagnose a medical condition, or your period induction may be a part of your fertility medication protocol. When you induce your period for personal reasons (e.g. to avoid your period during special events or trips), you may experience temporary changes in your menstrual cycle that can lead to changes in the length of your cycle or irregular bleeding patterns."

What are the risks associated with inducing a period?

Inducing a period via hormonal contraception can have many advantages, if taken correctly, according to Lythgoe.

"Being able to time your menstrual flow is definitely a plus. For the vast majority of healthy adults, it's a safe medication to take. Hormonal medication risks, although very rare, can increase the risk of developing blood clots, strokes, or heart attacks. Overweight and older users are at a higher risk of complications," she shares.

In terms of the other possible risks and side effects associated, Dr Srikrishna has provided a few warnings when it comes to encouraging vaginal bleeding:

Allergic reactions: Some individuals may be allergic to specific hormonal medications used for inducing periods, leading to allergic reactions or hypersensitivity.

Hormonal imbalances: Inducing periods can temporarily disrupt the natural hormonal balance in your body, potentially causing temporary irregularities in your menstrual cycle.

Side effects of medication: The hormonal medication used for inducing periods may have side effects such as nausea, headaches, breast tenderness, or mood changes. These effects are usually temporary and resolve once the medication is discontinued.

In terms of those who don't bleed when they take the 'seven-day pill break,' and that's why you're trying to induce your period, fun fact: you don't actually need one to "be healthy."

If you're taking it for contraception reasons, you can back-to-back the pill without taking a week off, so no need to for a period at all.

"It's a strange thing in this modern world, that actually you don't need periods at all to be healthy."

So... should I induce a period?

It's up to you and totally dependent on your body, period, and cycle.

Whether it’s to ensure your sporting event, wedding day or holiday goes off without a hitch, thanks to modern technology and a shift in how doctors approach female health issues, period induction is now something that you can definitely have done, with your GP’s support, according to the matron.

Bottom line and the take-home message for inducing your period: "Any controlling of your time of the month—whether that be inducing, delaying or totally omitting—isn't an exact science," says Lythgoe.

"Natural remedies are not recommended and can have their own consequences, so if controlling your periods is of interest, do talk to your GP, make sure you give yourself planning time and don’t despair: ‘vitamin C and an orgasm’ isn’t your only option."

Book a GP appointment and see what they have to say. They'll be able to guide you from there.

This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Credit: Cosmopolitan