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If You're Tempted To Try That Viral Hack That Supposedly Stops Your Period, Here's Why Doctors Advise Against It

TikTokers say that ibuprofen can delay your period and even stop it from arriving. But is this legit?

TikTokers say that ibuprofen can delay your period and even stop it from arriving. But is this legit?

Illustration:Julianna Brion For HuffPost

TikTok is known for oft-questionable health and fitness advice, such as claims that a dietary supplement is “nature’s Ozempic” and that a “parasite cleanse” is necessary for everyday health.

And now a recent viral TikTok video claims that if you combine Jell-O, lemon juice and ibuprofen, you can delay or stop your period. Many people online say that they have done this, claiming that it really did stop their period for a few hours or even days. But is this legit?

Dr. Karen Tang, a board-certified gynecologist and the author of the forthcoming book “It’s Not Hysteria,” replied to the TikTok trend with a video of her own in which she said the period-stopping tip isn’t totally wrong.

“Ibuprofen and other medications in that family of the NSAIDs — nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs — work to decrease period bleeding and cramping by decreasing the production of something called prostaglandin. Prostaglandin is something that acts like a hormone, and it causes uterine cramping,” Tang told HuffPost. “So, the less the cramping, the less that you’ll actually shed blood.”

In fact, NSAIDs are a standard treatment for painful and heavy periods, Tang noted.

When it comes to lightening your period, “the research and the evidence shows that taking high-dose ibuprofen ... can decrease the amount of flow of your period during your menstrual cycle by about 30% to 40%,” said Dr. Hillary McLaren, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Chicago Medicine.

For ibuprofen to lighten your period, you’d need to take between 600 and 800 milligrams three times a day, according to McLaren. This is a lot of ibuprofen, but McLaren said that it falls within the top range of what she’d recommend for a normal, healthy adult. For reference, the maximum daily dosage of ibuprofen is 3,200 milligrams per day (with a maximum of 800 milligrams per dose), but this tends to be with a prescription. Without a prescription, 1,200 milligrams is the daily limit.

This high amount of Ibuprofen is not for everyone, both McLaren and Tang stressed. It can be dangerous. In other words, do not try this without talking to your doctor first.

“The reason I wanted to make that [TikTok] video was because taking ibuprofen and other medications ... in that same category do have health risks. Ibuprofen and NSAIDs can irritate the GI system and cause things like ulcers,” Tang said, noting that it can lead to gastrointestinal stress “especially for people with conditions like Crohn’s disease.” Tang added that this can also be dangerous for your kidney health and can cause bleeding issues in other parts of the body.

In addition to aiding with cramps, ibuprofen can lighten your period.

In addition to aiding with cramps, ibuprofen can lighten your period.

Carol Yepes via Getty Images

It’s unclear how this hack impacts current and future menstrual cycles.

Some TikTokers said that doing this stopped their period altogether, but experts say that isn’t exactly accurate.

“It doesn’t prevent the period from happening, but when you’re bleeding it can lighten the flow significantly,” Tang said. “It definitely doesn’t guarantee that the period doesn’t happen at all.”

Also, opinions are mixed on how the ibuprofen method can affect your subsequent periods, making it doubly important to chat with your doctor before trying this out at home. Tang said that it “shouldn’t affect the function of your periods in the future; it really only works at that moment.”

But there isn’t research on how it impacts future cycles, McLaren noted. “As with anything that alters our periods, I would think that it would delay or change when you would expect to have your next cycle,” she said.

This means that if you delay your period by a day in one month, it may also be delayed by a day in the following month. But again, the science isn’t clear here — and every body is different.

If you want to delay or stop your period, there are safer and more effective treatments.

Close-up of woman sitting on edge of bed holding pills and glass of water
Grace Cary / Getty Images

If you are looking to delay or totally stop your period from happening, doing so via high-dose ibuprofen is not the most effective way, the experts told HuffPost.

“If someone is looking for a higher likelihood of controlling their periods, or what I would call menstrual suppression or menstrual regulation, there [are] better options,” McLaren said. These include birth control pills, the birth control patch and IUDs, among others.

If you are looking to stop, delay or better control your period, it’s best to talk to your doctor about the right choice for you ― especially before trying something from TikTok.This post originally appeared on HuffPost.