Medically reviewed by Sophia Yen, MD, MPH – Written by Pandia Health Editorial Team
Ah, vacations. The perfect time to relax. There’s no school or work to stress you out, no early alarms demanding you get out of bed and you have lots of hours of fun ahead of you.
Until you realize that your period is due that week.
Most people with a uterus have thought ‘I wish I could turn my period off!’ at least once. Luckily, there are ways you can skip your period for a week (or longer), and make sure it won’t be an unwelcome guest on your vacation. And if you don’t want to skip your monthly bleed, we’ve got ways to help make your period more comfortable.
Keep reading to find out how to enjoy your vacation on your terms.
How to stop your period from coming using birth control
Is your period due during your vacation? Skip the bleed!
The patch, the pill, and the ring are 3 hormonal birth control options that allow you to skip your period entirely if you want a month off or want to enjoy your vacation without the stress of cramps and period upkeep.
If you are taking the birth control pill, patch or ring, there is no medical reason why you need to have a bleed every month, meaning you can skip your monthly bleed if you wish. To skip your bleed, all you need to do is make sure you skip the break/bleed week for the patch, ring, or don’t take the sugar pill/placebo week for birth control pills and go straight into the next pack.
If you are using the combined birth control pill, simply skip the row of placebo pills or the week off after you finish three rows of active pills and go straight into the next pack. With the ring, change it after 28-30 days, rather than the usual 21, as it has 35 days of hormone in it. Similarly with the patch, just switch to a new patch after week three, rather than having a free week.
When skipping your period with the patch, you should NOT use it for more than 12 weeks in a row without having a bleed. Make sure to have a bleed at least every 12 weeks, otherwise, you will experience a build-up of estrogen and risk blood clots, which can lead to complications and even death.
For the ring, it actually has 35 days of medicine in it and every month has fewer than 35 days. So, to skip the monthly bleed, just keep it in for 4 wks to 35 days. And Change to a new one at 4 wks to 35 days.
How to stop your period indefinitely
#PeriodsOptional isn’t just for vacation time. You can skip your periods indefinitely if you use the pill, the ring, or the patch by consistently using your birth control without break weeks. (Again, if you are on the patch, you can only skip your bleed for 12 weeks in a row. You can skip for 12 weeks, have a bleed, and then skip for 12 weeks again before having another bleed.)
However in trying to get to no periods, breakthrough bleeding or spotting may occur. If this happens, what you need to do next will depend on what method of birth control you use. For the pill, stop taking active pills for 5 days and then restart on day 6. For the ring, keep your ring out for 5 days and use a new one right on day 6. For the patch, remove your patch and place a new patch on your body on day 7.
If you routinely experience breakthrough bleeding or spotting, it is recommended that you talk to your doctor as soon as possible and use a backup method to prevent pregnancy, such as condoms or abstaining from vaginal intercourse.
If you’re getting side effects and your doctor is not a birth control expert, Pandia Health is here to help. Our expert birth control doctors are available to prescribe the best birth control for you.
We pride ourselves on providing expert birth control care. Our doctors prescribe birth control based on the “Pandia Health algorithm” which takes into account several factors, including age, race/ethnicity, BMI, and your personal medical history, all of which can influence your body’s reaction to birth control. For example, if you are under 30 years old, it’s best to be on a method that has at least 30mcg of estrogen.
Tips for traveling while on your period
Not able or willing to skip your period? No problem. Let’s look at how we can make traveling on your period stress-free.
Don’t get caught out without birth control on your vacation. There’s nothing worse than being 1,000 miles from home and realizing that you’ve run out mid-way through your vacation!
If you’re traveling, you can request an early refill of your prescription. Whether this is permitted by your insurance will depend on your insurance company, but you can consider paying cash for an extra pack. If you aren’t able to get to a pharmacy, Pandia Health is here to help. All you need to do to get an early refill is contact us via text, phone, email or Live Chat and we’ll take care of the request and ship your birth control with free delivery to your home or vacation location if you are vacationing within the United States.
Stock up on tampons and pads
The last thing you want to be doing on your vacation is running around shops looking for your favorite brand of tampons or pads. Make sure to stock up on your care products ahead of time and take enough to last you the whole trip, plus extra!
Also, many brands now sell pocket-sized travel tampons. Check out the click tampons from U by Kotex or Lola’s 100% organic compact tampons. Not only are these tampons typically better for the environment because they don’t use as much material, but they also take up less space in your suitcase.
Try a Menstrual Cup or Period Panties
Don’t like lugging around boxes of tampons? Try an alternative!
Menstrual cups like the hello cup, DivaCup, or the Luna Cup are great for travel. Most cups are made with medical-grade silicone and can be left in your vagina for up to 12 hours, though this varies based on your flow. If you haven’t used a cup before, we recommend trying it out before your vacation to get used to it, but once you’re a cup pro you’ll be able to get it in and out in no time!
If you’re going on a longer trip and want to prioritize comfort, you can try period panties. They can absorb up to 2 tampons’ worth of period blood and are made with thin, breathable fabric that looks and feels like underwear. Super comfy with no visible panty lines. Check out Thinx, Dear Kate, Modi Bodi, or Panty Prop.
Don’t forget anti-inflammatories
Say goodbye to period cramps with anti-inflammatory medications or over-the-counter painkillers.
No-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) inhibit the production of prostaglandins (the hormone that causes your uterus to contract), leading to fewer cramps and less blood loss.
Ibuprofen specifically can also help decrease the heaviness of your flow. If you want to make your period lighter, take 600 milligrams of Ibuprofen at the very beginning of your cycle with food 3 times a day, for no more than 5 days in a row. If you plan to use this method regularly, please consult a doctor beforehand and make sure you do not have any kidney problems.
Period-related bloating can be uncomfortable at its best and painful at its worst, leaving you miserable on vacation.
Period-related bloating is caused by changes in your levels of estrogen and progesterone, which cause the body to retain more water and salt. While this may be unavoidable, there are steps you can take to minimize contributing factors. For instance, staying hydrated, eating foods that are low in sodium, and exercising may help regulate the body’s fluid levels.
It may sound like we’re giving you a long list to check off before you can even begin to enjoy your vacation, but ultimately, this is a time to unwind and relax. After all your preparation, you deserve to make the most of your vacation. Cut yourself some slack and treat yourself to whatever it is that your heart desires (as long as what your heart desires isn’t illegal and doesn’t hurt anyone).
How can Pandia Health help?
Should you decide to make your #PeriodsOptional, Pandia Health has your back! Not only do we offer a variety of birth control options, but we also have a ton of resources that can help you decide which method works best for your lifestyle. If you choose to take the pill or Twirla patch, don’t forget to sign up for our FREE delivery service, so you can #SkipTheTrip the pharmacy and get your prescription shipped right to your mailbox.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to delay period for vacation?
You can use your birth control pill to skip your period but start at least 3 months before your trip. If your trip is less than 1 month away, you can ask your doctor to prescribe Norethindrone 0.5 mg, 3 times a day starting 3 days before your anticipated period/bleed date and keep it going until you can bleed.
How can I speed up my period?
TLDR: You can’t speed up your period. But if it’s going on more than 7 days, talk to a doctor as there are medications that might help. While the length of your period may vary regardless of what you do, there are some methods that can help decrease the intensity of symptoms. For instance, getting plenty of rest, drinking enough water, and engaging in self-care are often recommended as natural remedies for managing period pains.
What are norethisterone and norethindrone?
Norethisterone (also known as norethindrone) is a type of progestin that is very similar to the female hormone progesterone. It is commonly used to help manage heavy or painful periods, and can also be prescribed to delay a period for a length of time for a special occasion. During menstruation, a drop in progesterone levels causes the uterine lining to shed. However, if progesterone is taken throughout your period, those levels do not drop, preventing menstruation.
How to skip a period?
Contrary to public opinion, monthly cycles are not necessary for those who take hormonal birth control. To stop your period using birth control pills, simply skip the row of placebo pills and move right to your next pack. If you use the NuvaRing or EluRyng, just keep the ring in for 4 weeks or up to 35 days and replace it with a new one. With Annovera, you can keep the ring in for an entire year! Suppressing periods can help decrease the risk of developing multiple health issues including anemia, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and ovarian and endometrial cancers.
How to make your period come faster?
TLDR: No. Unfortunately, making your period come faster isn't like delaying your period, which you can do by skipping the placebo week of your pill or patch. If your period lasts more than 7 days, talk to your doctor as there may be medications to help. While the length of your period may vary regardless of what you do, some methods can help decrease the intensity of symptoms. For instance, getting plenty of rest, drinking enough water, and engaging in self-care are often recommended as natural remedies for managing period pains. If you have painful or heavy periods, consider making #PeriodsOptional. Watch our Founder/CEO Dr. Sophia Yen’s talk on the bottom of this page
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article intend to inform and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Pandia Health. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.