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How Safe Is It To Take Medications For Delaying Your Period?


This post is a part of Periodपाठ, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with WSSCC to highlight the need for better menstrual hygiene management in India. Click here to find out more.

Many women would appreciate being able to control their period cycle, especially if it occurs at an inconvenient time. Although menstruation is a biological phenomenon and its occurrence or absence should not govern a person’s activities or lifestyle, situations like holidays, religious events, prolonged menses, and minor surgery are a few events where the need to delay one’s menses might be important.

Different Ways Menstruators Resort To For Delaying Periods

Most women want to delay their periods because they can be irksome in some cases, as mentioned above. Another reason for a person to delay or alter their period cycle may be because they suffer from increased cramps during that time, and they do not want it to affect some important work that needs their concentration.

As a result, several medicines are available in the market for those who desire to alter their cycle.

File:Pills and medicines 02.jpg
Representation Image. As a result, several medicines are available in the market for those who desire to alter their cycle.

What types of medications are available in the market for delaying menstruation?

There is a myriad of pills available to delay one’s periods. A gynecologist may prescribe hormonal contraceptives like oral contraceptive pills containing estrogen or progesterone and other drug-releasing intrauterine devices (IUD).

One of the most common medicines for the period delay is Norethisterone, which is available in India under various other names. Although it is trusted by various doctors, a more elaborate scientific study shows that the pills can cause serious behavioral changes and nausea, amongst other things.

Home Remedies To Delay Period Have No Proven Results To Back Them

A more natural way to delay one’s periods maybe by using apple cider vinegar, gram lentils, or lemon juice. The internet is full of home remedies for this issue, but there have been no proven results to date. Using home remedies without adequate precaution can also lead to certain setbacks in a person’s health. Thus, it is not advisable to use them.

In addition, women who have or are suffering from liver tumors, breast cancer, a history of jaundice during pregnancy, and severe vascular disease should be taking such medicines only after being advised by a doctor.

Several over the counter available painkillers for period pains are also one of the fast-selling medicines for women. Medicines like aspirin and acetaminophen are prominently used in India for this issue. However, the intake of such medicines should be carefully monitored because when painkillers are used for a long period of time, the body slows down the production of these natural chemicals and makes the body less effective in relieving pain naturally.

What Are The Repercussions  Of These Medications?

Altering one’s natural body functions would be bound to have some consequences.

Most women, after taking such pills, experience increased bleeding during their next menses. There have also been cases of extreme nausea and behaviour disturbances caused by such pills.

According to the National Cancer Institute and The American Cancer Society (ACS), there is evidence that suggests that taking either of the pills for a long duration of time can increase one’s risk of breast and cervical cancer.

In some rare instances, medicines like norethisterone can result in a fatal allergic reaction. Difficulty in breathing, swelling of the tongue or face, stomach bloating, diarrhea is some other side effects of such pills.

Medicines Should Compulsorily Be Taken With A Doctor’s Prescription

Some positive changes can be observed while using hormonal pills as well. Research suggests that the use of oral contraceptives used to delay periods can help fertility by reducing and delaying cases of endometriosis.

Oral contraceptives may also be an effective acne treatment. However, these are short term, and in longevity, they are prone to cause serious health damages if used regularly.

Can women finally have more comprehensive control over their cycles?

It is quite known that using contraceptive pills makes your period shorter and lighter.  In fact, consumption of painkillers available in local chemist stores can also reduce swelling of the uterine walls, which will, in turn, reduce bleeding and the pain that comes with it. But the fact remains that there are no absolutely safe options to delay the periods.

Everybody is different, and the reaction of such pills to their health can vary.

Side effects are more likely to occur when such pills are taken for longer periods of time. Thus, it becomes imperative that the medicine dose is taken in accordance with a doctor’s recommendation, and appropriate safety measures should be taken before the consumption of such medicines.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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