TikTok is known for its often questionable health and fitness advice, such as claims that dietary supplements are “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 they have done this, claiming that it actually stops their periods for hours or even days. But is this legal?
Karen Tang, a board-certified gynecologist and author of the forthcoming book “It’s Not Hysteria,” responded to the TikTok trend with a video of her own saying that the tip for stopping menstruation isn’t completely wrong.
Ibuprofen and other drugs in the NSAID family – nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – work to reduce menstrual bleeding and cramps by reducing the production of something called prostaglandins. “Prostaglandin is something that acts like a hormone, and causes uterine cramps,” Tang told Talk News. So, the fewer the cramps, the less blood will come out.
In fact, NSAIDs are the standard treatment for painful and heavy periods, Tang says.
When it comes to lightening your period, “research and evidence shows that taking high doses of ibuprofen… can decrease the amount of your menstrual flow during your menstrual cycle by approximately 30% to 40%,” says Dr. Hillary McLaren, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Chicago Medicine.
For ibuprofen to lighten your period, you need to take between 600 and 800 milligrams three times a day, according to McLaren. That’s a lot of ibuprofen, but McLaren says it’s at the top of the range of what he recommends for normal, healthy adults. For reference, the maximum daily dose of ibuprofen is 3,200 milligrams per day (with a maximum of 800 milligrams per dose), but this tends to be done on prescription. Without a prescription, 1,200 milligrams is the daily limit.
These large amounts of ibuprofen are not for everyone, both McLaren and Tang stressed. This can be dangerous. In other words, don’t try it without first consulting your doctor.
“The reason I wanted to make that video (TikTok) is because taking ibuprofen and other drugs… in the same category do have health risks. Ibuprofen and NSAIDs can irritate the digestive system and cause things like ulcers,” Tang said, noting that they can cause digestive distress “especially for people with conditions like Crohn’s disease.” Tang adds that this can also be dangerous for your kidney health and can cause bleeding problems in other parts of the body.
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Apart from helping with cramps, ibuprofen can also make your menstruation easier.
It’s unclear how this hack will impact current and future menstrual cycles.
Some TikTok users say that doing this will stop their periods altogether, but experts say that’s not entirely accurate.
“It doesn’t prevent menstruation from occurring, but when you do bleed, it can improve the flow significantly,” Tang says. “This obviously does not guarantee that the period did not occur at all.”
Additionally, there are varying opinions regarding how the ibuprofen method may affect your next period, so it is important to consult your doctor before trying it at home. Tang said that it “should not affect your future menstrual function; it really just works in the moment.”
But there has been no research into its impact on future cycles, McLaren said. “Like anything that changes our periods, I think it will be delayed or changed when you expect your next cycle,” she says.
This means that if you delay your period one day in one month, it may also be delayed by one day in the following month. But again, the science here is unclear – and everyone is different.
If you want to delay or stop your period, there are safer and more effective treatments.
If you want to delay or stop your period altogether, doing so via high doses of ibuprofen isn’t the most effective way, experts told Talk News.
“If someone is looking for a higher probability of controlling their period, or what I call menstrual suppression or menstrual regulation, there are better options,” McLaren said. These include birth control pills, birth control patches, and IUDs.
If you want to stop, delay, or better control your period, it’s best to talk to your doctor about the right options for you ― especially before trying anything from TikTok.