The lowdown on stopping or delaying your periods

It is as if women can't win against their periods

In Summary

• Women may choose to delay their periods to avoid having them during important events, such as weddings, vacations or athletic competitions

• The pills used to stop or delay menstruation are known as hormonal contraceptives

Menstrual calendar
Menstrual calendar
Image: FILE

Most women can relate to the dilemma of loving and hating their periods at the same time. 

If a woman's periods delay showing up even by a day, she goes into panic, praying her cycle is still in sync. 

When the first blood drop finally comes, she is relieved. But she begins to hate the whole experience as it comes with discomfort from nausea, painful cramping and uncalled-for mood swings. 

It is as if women can't win against their periods. 

But even though women detest their periods, they cannot do away with the natural cycle unless they get pregnant or patiently wait for menopause. 

Fortunately, advancements in the medical field now allow women to delay or stop their periods if they wish to do so. 

But why would a woman choose to delay or stop her periods? 

A woman may choose to delay or stop her periods because of a special occasion she is set to attend. 

Menses come with a lot of discomfort, which might make being in the occasion just as uncomfortable. 

Gynaecologist Wasike Wamalwa said he has had patients request to have their periods delayed for them to attend special events, such as weddings, vacations and athletic competitions, like swimming. 

He said women have also sought to have their periods stopped after bleeding too much as a result of contraceptives. 

"Injective contraceptives are most known to cause such bleeding," he said. 

This is because such hormonal contraceptives interfere with one's periods, causing irregular and excessive bleeding. 

"If you took that injection and you are bleeding abnormally, the solution is to correct your hormonal imbalance," Wamalwa said. 

"We prescribe combined pills with oestrogen to correct the hormonal imbalance, and the bleeding becomes normal."

Additionally, conditions such as endometriosis at times call for complete stoppage of a woman's periods. 

Wamalwa said women who suffer from endometriosis experience heavy and painful periods. 

Endometriosis occurs when tissues similar to the uterine wall grow outside the uterus, which results in inflammation, thus the pain. 

"For such a condition, we give the patient a pseudo pregnancy, which will stop the bleeding and inflammation, thus decreasing the pain," Wamalwa said. 

Women who suffer from fibroids also bleed excessively during their periods. 

Fibroids are abnormal growths in or on the uterus that can cause pain, bleeding and infertility.

At times, the growths have to be removed. 

"Before the surgery to remove the fibroid growths, we try to shrink the fibroids by stopping your periods," the gynaecologist said. 

One's periods are also stopped to allow room for increase of blood volume before the fibroid removal procedure. 

Some women also experience crippling migraines that coincide with their menstrual periods.

For such women, delaying menstruation can help prevent or reduce the occurrence of these migraines.

Wamalwa said the most common side effect of delaying or stopping periods is that one's cycle becomes irregular afterwards. 

Another side effect could be infertility.

"You might not be able to conceive quickly enough but eventually, the system cleans itself and your cycle goes back to normal," he said. 

The pills used to stop or delay menstruation are known as hormonal contraceptives. 

These pills contain synthetic hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle.

The two main types of hormonal contraceptives used for this purpose are combined oral contraceptives and progestin-only contraceptives .

Combined oral contraceptives contain synthetic oestrogen and progestin.

These hormones work together to suppress the natural hormonal fluctuations that occur during the menstrual cycle.

If you are considering altering your cycle for whatever reason, consult a doctor first. 

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