There comes a time in our lives when we all want our periods to come early, whether it’s before a holiday, a night out, a special event… there is nothing more inconvenient than Aunt Flo arriving the day you’re off to spend 7 days in a bikini; a cramping stomach and the fear of not stocking up on enough sanitary products, the worry a sneaky leak might stain an expensive chair at a wedding… can you IMAGINE? For others, inducing a period is merely trying to get it to arrive on time. If you suffer with PCOS or endometriosis, or you’re starting IVF, IUI, an FET or ICSI, for example, irregular periods and unpredictability can be the absolute bane of your life. So, with that in mind, this month I decided to challenge my PCOS by doing my research. I was going to try every trick in the book for ‘home remedies’ to bring on Aunt Flo… on time! Did it work? Let’s find out!
*WARNING: If there is any chance you are pregnant, the use of emmenagogues to try and induce your period can potentially cause a miscarriage. If you think you might be pregnant, or know you are, do not try the following remedies!
Emmenagogues: Herbs that stimulate blood flow in the pelvic/uterus area.
With regards to Turmeric, the scientific evidence is nothing short of lacking. However, it is believed that turmeric is supposed to impact your progesterone and oestrogen levels, assisting in the inducement of a period. Turmeric can be consumed in multiple different ways; added to food, in the form of tea, with heated milk… a quick google and you will have a thousand recipes at your fingertips. My turmeric of choice was tea. I needed to cut down the amount of caffeinated tea I was consuming so turmeric tea was being consumed by the gallon! I also purchased a turmeric ‘hot shot’ from Sainsbury’s. This might have been the biggest mistake of my life, failing to check what made it a hot shot (for some reason I believed it just meant it was ‘hot’, like desirable, as opposed to you know… hot), and consuming a shot of turmeric and an obscene amount of cayenne pepper. My throat and my tongue were not particularly grateful, that’s for certain. The Pukka Tea was certainly enjoyable! Effective? Not so much…
I love Parsley in everything I cook so I figured this would be easy. Parsley contains a great level of Vitamin C and studies show this, as well as the apiol it contains, is effective in stimulating uterine contractions. Again, this can be added to food or consumed with hot water as a form of tea. I had posted a message into a PCOS group I am part of regarding inducing periods and a couple of ladies told me they had only positive experiences when eating parsley raw. They would munch parsley in the morning and Aunt Flo would be on their doorstep (not literally) by dinner time. I figured I would give this a go. Not only was I cooking parsley into my dinner, I went to Sainsbury’s at 9 o clock at night to buy a bag of parsley. I am convinced my husband thought I was going crazy; I was sat on the sofa with my turmeric tea, munching away at my parsley as though it was a bag of crisps. Low and behold, I did have stomach cramps and I truly believed it was working, until I woke up to a dry pair of knickers and nothing more. Just a bit of embarrassment when my husband asked if it was worth it… Oh, and as Marie Curie once advised, don’t go shoving it up you’re you know where, it doesn’t work and they very quickly removed the article…
Ginger supposedly encourages uterine contractions and a period in return, however anyone will know that raw ginger isn’t exactly pleasant. I tried it, as recommended, in the form of tea. I must admit, the teas I tried were beautiful! I now have a new love for ginger tea, again thanks to the trusted Pukka! My personal favourite was the three ginger. I also braved a ginger shot, purchased in Sainsbury’s. I didn’t think it would be that strong! It was mixed with lemon and apple juice so I figured despite being 25% ginger, the other flavours might overpower it. BOY was I wrong. I took my shot of ginger and I think my throat burnt away in the process; half of it wanted to come out of my nose and I definitely looked like I’d spent a week straight sobbing. The worst part? My period didn’t start.
Orgasms are said to help induce a period for a variety of reasons. First of all, the vagina being stimulated encourages the blood flow in the pelvic region to head to the correct area. In addition to this, the ‘contractions’ that are caused by an orgasm help to dilate the cervix, again encouraging the shedding of the uterine lining. The hormones released during sex, such as the chemical Oxytocin, mixed with adrenaline, all plays a part in inducing Aunt Flo’s visit. Without an orgasm, sex itself is said to be an excellent way to bring on your period – studies show that semen softens the cervix, helping to encourage the bleed. In my case, well, without going into too much detail… it didn’t work.
Reflexology wasn’t one I had read as a ‘myth’. Reflexology, a holistic practice, has been proven through many studies to help with ovulation however the amount of studies into the links between reflexology and menstruation are limited. It is said to help with period pain, however the research into inducing the flow itself isn’t really there. Reflexology, I have found, has always been something that has helped induce my periods. Effectively, reflexology is a specialist massage on your feet which involves putting pressure on specific parts of the feet. This is said to impact the corresponding parts of the body. At first I was very sceptical, however my therapist Nicola amazed me with how much she could tell from my feet. She would know instantly if I had been having problems with my sinuses, which side I was ovulating and if I had been suffering with back pain – and where on my back. I am sure the woman is a paranormal being! Previously, reflexology has brought on my period and I would regularly go see Nicola for a ‘once over’ if I was late. This time however, my period didn’t arrive for another week or so.
Everyone says stress slows it down and I wonder whether I was putting far too much pressure on myself. Unfortunately with PCOS, a period is never going to be clockwork without medication – or in my personal experience anyway. I often read articles claiming certain home remedies work wonders for x, y or z, but the truth is, everything works on an individual basis. Our bodies are all totally different and what works for one doesn’t work for another. In my experience, despite trying everything that was supposed to induce my period, it was 27 days late. One more day and I would have literally missed an entire cycle.
Was I putting too much pressure on myself? Yes. Did the stress delay it? Likely so. However, was I not stressing about it, would the copious amounts of turmeric tea have made a difference? Probably not. I suspect I’d have had more luck with a bottle of Pinot…