Festivals are round the corner and very soon women/ girls will start approaching with that common request, “Doctor, I want to postpone my menstruation date!”
I am sure this is a practice unique to India (or Indians abroad) – marriage, visit to a temple/ shrine, some auspicious occasion in the family or marriage – all closely related women start thinking of adjusting (postpone or get it earlier) their menstrual cycle so as not to get on the ‘auspicious’ date.
From time immemorial menstruation, in India, has been treated as a monthly curse; in scores of families women were/ are not allowed to enter kitchen when menstruating and if it is a nuclear family (& with no help) kitchen is shut for those 3-5 days. Even in this NextGen, it is still considered “inauspicious”.
And how do they accomplish this?
Most of them get the name of a drug from friends, relatives or colleagues. Few go to the chemist and ask for a tablet and fewer still go to their Doctor for a prescription. Little they realize, that these tiny tablets are hormone pills, which can adversely affect their cycles for as long as 3-4 months.
The following facts should be borne in mind whenever any woman tries to prepone/ postpone you’re her periods.
- TIME:vaginal bleeding signalling a menstruation is actually due to a series of complex hormonal fluctuations.
Postponement of menstruation should ONLY be tried at least 7 days before expected date of menstruation.
Preponing (getting them early) should ONLY be attempted at least 15 days before the due date.
Why is it so?
In both cases, the hormones administered through the tablets, take over the normal fluctuation and the resultant bleeding, taken as menstruation, is actually a WITHDRAWAL bleeding. One needs a 5 day course of tablets to build up sufficiently high hormonal levels that drops over next 4-7 days and withdrawal bleeding occurs. You have to give at least 5 days for flow to stop naturally, hence at least 15 days to prepone.
While postponing, one needs at least 5 days of therapy to sufficiently raise the blood levels. Hence keeping a safety margin of 2 days (the cycles never come bang on the expected date), at least 7 days are required for treatment to be effective.
2. SIDE EFFECTS:As mentioned these tablets are hormone pills, women should expect their menstruation to be erratic for next 3-4 cycles. A big price to pay for ‘adjusting’ as per their wishes. Another side effect, not medical though, is that when would-be-brides postpone the cycle not to have it during the ceremony days, they get it bang during honeymoon! The groom has to be ‘super understanding’. Not so great start to a new phase of life.
3. IS THERE A NEED? I, personally, do not advocate such adjustment. I tell the girls/ women who come asking for such medicines, “Such pills were not available before 1950s, and so what were your mothers / grandmothers doing? Did anyone ever hear of a ceremony being postponed because of someone’s periods? Did you ever hear someone asking a girl’s menstruation date before fixing date for marriage/ religious ceremony?” And they have no answers.
Marriages/ ceremonies have been going on much before the advent of the pill. So what was happening? Women would keep quiet and let the thing continue.
Last piece of advice–those girls/ women who already suffer from irregular menstrual cycles, please REFRAIN from taking these pills for preponing/ postponing cycles on your own. If you must, seek advice from a Doctor.
Dr Chander Asrani, is a post-graduate in Family Medicine. He has over 36 years in family practice and has witnessed several kids going awry because father was just a shadow in their life. He writes on various subjects of wellness; learning to live with chronic ailments and stress. Know more about him at about.me/drasrani.