Periods can be inconvenient for women when they come at a bad time. Attending a pool party? Wearing a light-colored figure-hugging dress to dinner? Weekend plans? Some women are confident to do these things during their period. But for other women, the worry or fear of leaking or bleeding onto their clothes and seats in public can be enough to change their plans.
Because of this inconvenience, it’s no surprise that many women are looking for natural ways to shorten or stop their period. One trend I saw was the claim that eating a lemon can stop your period. A few others include eating gelatin, lentils, or apple cider vinegar. But just how true are these claims, that adding more organic food to your diet will shorten or stop your period?
Unfortunately, it might not be what you think.
First, Let’s Explain Why Your Period Happens
Women who have had their periods for many years should fairly know why you have your period. But for younger women and those who want to learn more, here’s a brief explanation of how a woman’s reproductive system works.
It’s normal for women to bleed every month. This is known as the menstruation cycle, but it’s also commonly known as a “period.” Women usually get their periods during their puberty (around the ages 11 to 14, though some girls start bleeding earlier or later in life). Periods usually end in a woman’s fifties, in a stage known as menopause. During these 40 to 45 years, periods are a sign that a woman’s reproductive system may be capable of carrying a baby.
Every 28 days (though it can vary, for some women it may not always be exactly 28 days), your uterus prepares itself to carry a fertilized egg that will develop into a baby. In preparation, your uterus will create a thick lining of nutrients along its walls. If you aren’t pregnant, your egg will dissolve along with the lining and some blood. This will come out of your vagina for a few days, and the process will repeat itself.
How Long Do Periods Last?
Normally, bleeding should last between two to seven days. In some instances, however, it may be possible for a woman to bleed longer. If you miss a period, it could be a sign of pregnancy; if your egg is fertilized, the lining will not shed.
If there’s no chance of you getting pregnant, you might be undergoing amenorrhea and may have to see a gynecologist.
On the other hand, if you’re bleeding heavily for longer than seven days, you may be experiencing menorrhagia and will have to see a gynecologist for possible underlying conditions.
To help keep track of your period and how long it regularly lasts, we recommend installing a period tracker app on your phone. You simply record dates when you’re bleeding, and your tracker can determine when your next period will be. Some trackers can also determine your ovulation days, which can be useful if you want to avoid getting pregnant or if you’re trying to get pregnant.
How Can I Naturally Stop or Delay My Period?
Once your period starts, there is no natural way to stop your period. Throughout those two to seven days where you’re bleeding, you can mitigate the effects of your period (e.g. cramping, headaches, feeling of bloatedness) through organic and all-natural means.
But if you’re thinking about stopping or delaying your period, unfortunately, there is no scientific or proven method to do that naturally. There are plenty of articles online swearing that these methods work, but unfortunately, these have never been proven.
Does Eating a Lemon Stop Your Period?
Plenty of anecdotes from people on the internet say lemon juice has helped them delayed their period, but there’s no basis to this. It’s true that lemon juice is highly acidic, but there’s no proof that acidic fruit can stop your hormones from going through its natural process.
In fact, drinking too much lemon juice to stop your period can have a negative effect on your health. Because of lemon’s acidity, you should only drink it every now and then. Too much lemon juice, any type of lemonade, citrus juice, or even fruit-infused water like peach water can slowly dissolve the enamel in your teeth, trigger acid reflux, or develop GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
What About Gelatin?
Another old wives’ tale is that gelatin can delay your period. On the day your period is expected to start, you’re supposed to dissolve a packet of gelatin in warm water and drink it. One packet of gelatin will supposedly delay your period for four hours, so if you want to keep pushing back your period, you have to keep drinking gelatin every four hours.
This has no science or research to support this claim. We’re not even sure why some people would suggest this, as gelatin has no apparent nutrients or substances that can directly affect your menstrual cycle.
In fact, drinking that much gelatin can cause bloating, heartburn, and belching. You could be causing bloating and still end up getting your period.
Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar has often been touted as a cure-all for many different conditions, and a few websites have claimed that it can stop or delay a period. While there is one study that showed a link between ACV and women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, the study found that ACV may actually help women with irregular periods to menstruate, not delay it.
Another thing: ACV is highly acidic. A tablespoon of pure ACV is much more acidic than a table of lemon juice. As much as possible, you should always dilute ACV with water and never drink it pure.
If Not Food, Can Exercise Stop My Period?
Anecdotal evidence from female athletes and those who undergo frequent heavy physical activity have noticed frequent period delays. This may be due to the fact that their bodies are constantly using up all their available energy to perform strenuous tasks and recover from them afterward. If this is the case, then their bodies do not have the energy to begin the menstrual cycle.
It’s common for professional athletes to miss or have a delayed period. But this is only an effect of their lifestyle, and they’re not actively working out for the sake of delaying it. So, there’s no evidence that your period will stop if you do a heavy workout a day before it starts.
Non-Natural Options to Stop Your Period
If you really want to delay your period, there are non-natural options, such as hormonal contraception and prescription medicine. Some forms of birth control pills can cause delays, while some medicines can delay your period if you take it days before it’s scheduled to arrive. Be sure to consult your gynecologist about this before taking anything.
How Can I Shorten My Period?
There may not be a natural way to do this, but if we’re talking about shortening your period, we might need to explain a little bit about period cramps first.
Menstrual cramps are normal for many women (around 75 percent of women will experience it at least once before or during their period). This is usually caused by a hormone called prostaglandins, which help your uterus contract and relax. When this happens, the thick lining can detach, shed, and flow out of your vagina.
Enough prostaglandins can get your period to flow out. But too many can cause strong uterus contractions, which can result in less blood flow and less oxygen on the uterus muscle, which causes cramps. If you can get your uterus to detach and shed your lining faster by reducing the need for prostaglandins, you may be able to speed up your period. Here are a few natural ways.
Have an Active Sex Life
Having sex or masturbating during your period can reduce period cramps. When you have an orgasm, your uterus muscles contract, which helps move menstrual blood from the uterus faster.
While exercise can’t delay your period, regular cardiovascular exercise can result in a lighter menstrual flow, which can reduce the number of days you have your period. This can also help with bloating, cramps, and your overall health. However, do not force your body to undergo excessive exercise.
Foods rich in B vitamins, zinc, and magnesium can help alleviate cramps and normalize hormones associated with menstruation, which may help with speeding up your period. If you don’t want to take vitamin supplements, observe a healthy diet filled with these foods.
- Eggs and poultry
- Fish and meat
- Dairy products
- Legumes, nuts, seeds
- Leafy green vegetables
- Fennel and ginger
Conclusion: There’s No Sure Way To Stop Your Period
Unfortunately for us women, it is impossible to naturally delay our periods. If you’re not open to prescription medicines or hormonal contraceptives, your period may inconvenience you at times because of its bad timing.
What you can do, however, is mitigate how much it will affect you in terms of pain and flow. Taking steps to lead a healthier and more active lifestyle can help you reduce the pain and how much blood flow there is. Just stay away from the lemon juice and gelatin – those are unlikely to help.