The menstrual period can be a really challenging time for females. It comes with a lot of changes and lifestyle adjustments to be able to fully function and carry out the day’s activities. The discomfort, pain, and unease that comes with the menstrual period can affect a woman’s quality of life. In fact, a Japanese study among working women showed a reduction in the health related quality of life of such women during their menstrual period. Another study among school girls reported that 90% of the girls did not feel comfortable when they came to school during their menstruation days, and 20% of them had missed exams when exams coincided with their menstruation days. About half (57%) of the girls felt that menstruation reduced their academic performance as they could not concentrate in class during menstruation! Despite these, the period is important in the reproductive life of any female and women with a fairly regular, monthly period are deemed fertile until proven otherwise.
What causes a period?
The period marks the beginning of the reproductive cycle of the female. It occurs when there is no fertilization by a male sperm about 14 days after ovulation. The mature egg released during ovulation degenerates in the absence of pregnancy. At the same time, all the thickened linings of the uterus or womb which occurred before ovulation in preparation for a possible pregnancy breaks down. This is mainly because the hormones responsible for the maintenance of the thickened linings of the uterus decreases and the inner lining will then shed. This shedding occurs in the form of blood and some uterine tissues, and flows out through the cervix and vagina. This is the menstrual period.
There may be no ovulation in some cases, the period will still occur but will be fluctuating and usually does not reach 28 days and the flow can range from scanty to heavy in such cases.
How long does a period last?
The length of the period is variable but it is usually an average of 28 days (25 to 35 days) and is counted from the first day of the bleeding of a period to the first day of bleeding of the next period. The menstrual period in an adult female usually lasts between 2 to 5 days but can be up to 8 days in some women. The amount of blood lost is usually between 5mls to 80mls, and any bleeding more than 80mls is considered heavy. Practically, to estimate the volume of fluid loss, a regular daytime fully soaked pad may hold around 5 mls or a teaspoon of fluid, and a fully soaked overnight pad may hold 10-15 mL, while a fully saturated light tampon can hold up to 3mls of fluid. In summary, it is normal to soak one to seven pads in a whole period.
How to make the period end faster?
To hasten the period flow and make it end faster, there are some proven methods that can help.
- Sex. Even though this may not be comfortable during a period, good sex accompanied by an orgasm (which may also be by masturbation), can reduce cramping and menstrual flow. This is because orgasms generate uterine muscle contractions, which help to push out menstrual blood from the uterus.
- Acupuncture. This has been claimed to make the period end faster. According to a Chinese Medicine Practitioner, acupuncture may improve blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, and calms the nervous system. It is also claimed to dilates blood vessels thereby increasing the flow of blood to the ovaries and lining of the uterus (endometrium). These will lead to regulation of the menstrual cycle, and may reduce painful periods as well as promote free flow of blood during the period, making it end earlier.
- Exercise. Staying active and sticking with a consistent exercise regimen makes the period more manageable, and may even help shorten the duration of the period. Strength training, cardio exercises and anything else that makes one active is usually helpful. Exercise will help the period end faster and even make the cramps less painful.
- Massage. A massage of the uterus to ease cramps and use of a heating pad placed over the lower abdomen can help the period flow faster. The massage can help to shed the linings more quickly, while the heat will dilate the blood vessels in that area, which in turn will help make blood flow quickly. Soaking in a hot bath can also have the desired effect of dilating the uterine blood vessels.
- Herbal tea. Another method of how to make the period end faster involves drinking herbal teas. There are specific herbs used to induce menstruation which are said to affect the hormones, stimulate the reproductive system and improve blood flow as well. These herbs include parsley, chamomile, feverfew, yarrow, sage, rosemary, and red raspberry leaf. Other stronger herbs include pennyroyal, juniper berry, asafetida, angelica, black cohosh, and tansy. There is need for more research on the authenticity of these herbs to help standardize its use for menstrual issues.
- Diet. A good combination of diet can also make the period end faster. Fruits like papaya, peaches, apricots, carrots, spinach and food rich in carotene have been said to play a role in shortening the duration of your period. Turmeric and jaggery powder taken in a glass of water twice a day for about 2 weeks before the due date of period has also been said to increase the body heat and make the period end faster. Evidence to the effectiveness of these methods are mostly based on people’s experience rather than controlled studies. However, there is evidence that turmeric can reduce pain and cramps associated with painful periods.
- Vitamin C. Large doses of vitamin C has been reported to decrease the amount of progesterone in the uterus, which in turn will help break down the walls of the uterus faster. This will help the menstrual period to end faster. It is advisable to drink plenty of water and confirm with a doctor before very high doses of Vitamin C is taken.
- NSAIDS. NSAIDS like Ibuprofen and Naproxen have been reported to reduce menstrual flow by 28% to 49%. They also act to relieve pains associated with the period. In some cases, Ibuprofen puts an end to the period.
- Hormonal birth control. Oral birth control pills and birth control injections can be used to regulate the cycle. They have been proven to decrease cramping and shorten the number of period days. They can even reduce the number of menstrual cycles per year.
If you want to take any of the drugs listed above to lessen your period, be sure to check and get clearance from your doctor before you do so. Also if you have heavy periods you may want to go for a check by your doctor to confirm you do not have a serious issue like endometriosis.