Mon | May 28, 2018

Delaying your period

Published:Monday | November 14, 2011 | 12:00 AM

Keisha Shakespeare-Blackmore, Staff Reporter

Every woman gets an uninvited visitor every month that can sometimes show up at the worst possible time. There is no way to get rid of it until menopause, but with the aid of oral contraceptives, you can control when it comes strolling in.

It is estimated that the average woman will have about 450 periods in her lifetime. And, for most women, their menstrual cycles will follow a 28-day pattern.

However, does it really have to? What if a woman could choose to have just one period a year, wouldn't that be awesome?

Some women, with the help of contraceptives, have been opting to suppress their monthly periods so they occur less frequently.

When a woman stops taking the Pill (oral contraceptives), the body triggers the start of her period. But by maintaining the hormones continuously, she prevents her body from going into period mode. The contraceptives deliver an extended or uninterrupted supply of hormones that is said to fool 'Mother Nature'. Many women will opt for this under the care of a physician, thus having their periods once every three or four months.

Dr Keisha Buchanan, obstetrician and gynaecologist at Gynae Associates, told Flair that what the Pill does is allow a woman to delay her menses so that she can enjoy a sexual encounter or enjoy a special occasion, for example her wedding, birthday, anniversary or Valentine's Day.

"This gives her a greater feeling of control over her menses and her body," notes Dr Buchanan.

She explains that other general benefits of taking an oral contraceptive is that it assists with preventing cramps and the discomfort of a heavy period. Dr Buchanan added that it also helps to prevent anaemia from heavy periods, treats acne and may provide contraception when taken properly.

However, like any other medication, there are side-effects. Some of these include nausea, vomiting, bloating, it may not prevent pregnancy if the pill was not started during the menses, irregular vaginal spotting, which may interfere with sexual intercourse.

She noted that the pill also carries the risk of blood clots such as deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the deep vein of the calf and thigh) or cause a stroke. However, the risk of this is rare with a ratio of six to nine out of 10,000 women.

"Women should avoid long-distance flights as immobility can predispose them to deep vein thrombosis - blood clots in the legs and thighs that can cause a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung). If she has to take a long flight lasting more than two hours, then she should ambulate every hour in order to prevent these blood clots."

Despite the pros and cons, women will forever find ways to delay their periods because it is just less stress for many. But it is important to always check with your gynaecologist before you decide to mess with Mother Nature.