Every month or so, the uterus of the average woman of reproductive age sheds its lining as part of the menstrual cycle. Menstruation is an integral, hormone-controlled part of the reproductive process. It helps your body be ready for pregnancy. But there may be times when, for varied reasons, you may want to temporarily delay your period. Some supplement makers and medical professionals espouse vitamin B6 as a potential aid in the delay of menstruation. We explore this claim and examine whether there’s any scientific evidence behind it.
What is Vitamin B6?
Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin. Also referred to as pyridoxine, it plays an important part in amino acid synthesis, neurotransmitter production and the generation of red blood cells. Vitamin B6 occurs naturally in numerous everyday foods such as:
You can also get it through dietary supplements. Vitamin B6 supports various essential processes in the body. These include:
Vitamin B6 also plays an important role during pregnancy. It safeguards neural development in the growing fetus and, for years, has been used to reduce the severity of morning sickness and premenstrual syndrome.
So it would probably not seem too far-fetched for one to assume that it could help delay morning periods.
How Vitamin B6 Interacts with Hormones
Vitamin B6’s potential role in delaying menstrual periods is likely to come from its interaction with estrogen, progesterone and other hormones involved in the menstrual cycle.
Progesterone is the hormone responsible for the latter half of the menstrual cycle and prepares the uterus lining for a potential pregnancy. It is thought that vitamin B6 could regulate progesterone levels effectively slowing down the shedding of the uterus lining and delaying menstruation. Vitamin B6 may also influence estrogen synthesis which would in turn have an effect on the menstrual cycle overall. It is however unclear how much effect it has and to what extent.
There is not a whole lot of research evaluating whether vitamin B6 does delay menstrual periods. But where it exists, the evidence in support is absent or weak. Most such studies seem to find that while vitamin B6 may have a positive effect on vomiting, nausea, dizziness as well as behavioral premenstrual symptoms, it does not slow the physical progress of the cycle.
in a 1987 clinical trial published in the Obstetrics & Gynecology journal, subjects placed on 150 mg vitamin B6 daily reported reduction in the severity of premenstrual mood, nausea and vomiting. None of the participants however experienced a delay in their period.
a clinical trial published in the Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners in 1989 observed that vitamin B6 supplementation was accompanied by improvements in emotional symptoms like irritability, depression and tiredness. There was no change to the time it took for the menstrual cycle to run its course.
These studies are a representation of multiple other clinical trials and reviews that come to a similar conclusion. It is therefore safe to say while vitamin B6 may have a beneficial impact on premenstrual symptoms, the current research does not support the claim that it can delay periods.
Potential Risks and Side Effects
Even though the argument that vitamin B6 delays menstrual periods is currently weak, your body still needs it. There is however such a thing as too much vitamin B6. Since it’s present in plenty of foods, any supplement should take cognizance of this to avoid pushing you beyond the recommended upper limit of use. Too much of it may cause diarrhea, headache, nausea, vomiting, skin rash and, in extreme cases, numbing and tingling on extremities. Given most supplements have fairly small amounts of vitamin B6, the overwhelming majority of people are unlikely to approach such high quantities. The recommended daily amount is 1.3 mg to 1.7 mg per day.
Other Natural Methods to Delay Period
Vitamin B6 did not pass the test. Fortunately, there are other ways you can naturally delay monthly periods. These include:
In any case, these should be adopted with the supervision of a healthcare provider.
Vitamin B6 is known to have positive effects on different aspects of the reproductive process in women. That includes morning sickness, fetal development and premenstrual syndrome. However, in light of current research, vitamin B6 supplementation does not appear to have any effect on when the menstrual period occurs.