What to Know About the Period Hack Sydney Sweeney Used to Try to Stop Her Flow

The Euphoria star recently revealed that she took a combo of extra birth control pills and painkillers to ease bloat and pause her period — but is that even safe? Experts weigh in.

sydney sweeney period hack
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If your period (and all the groan-inducing symptoms that come along with it) always shows up during truly inconvenient times, Sydney Sweeney can likely relate. The Euphoria star recently told Cosmopolitan about a time when she started her period on the day of a lingerie shoot, revealing the internet hack she tried to stop her flow. And it's a solid reminder that not every health hack you see online is safe to try IRL.

Sweeney, who serves as the magazine's February cover star, shared that she started her period hours before the sexy shoot. "I did not want to put a tampon in because I didn't want to be bloated in the photos," she admitted. "I googled that you could take, like, three or four pills of birth control and mix it with Advil or Tylenol and it'll make you stop your period."

An hour later, she "started feeling dizzy and nauseous. I was like, 'Fuck, maybe I need to eat something.' I had a muffin and it did not make me feel good. All of a sudden, I threw up in the middle of this shoot, everywhere." Unfortunately, she left the shoot early, feeling ill from being "jacked on so many different hormones." Of the whole scenario, she told Cosmopolitan, "I was a mess. I felt so embarrassed."

While Sweeney's attempt to halt her period makes sense (and no judgment here!), you're probably wondering if her tactics are actually legit — and odds are you're not alone. So, Shape tapped three doctors to help shed some light on the actress' experiences (i.e. why she got so sick), determine whether the Google-able health advice is safe, and how you can safely delay your period if you need to.

First, Can Tampons Actually Cause Bloating?

That would be a hard no, folks. It's worth noting that there's no clinical data to back up Sweeney's anecdote about tampons causing or contributing to bloat. Yes, period bloating is real (and extremely common!), but your tampon isn't causing it, explains Kecia Gaither, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.O.G., a double board-certified physician in ob-gyn and maternal-fetal medicine and director of Perinatal Services at NYC Health Hospitals/Lincoln in the Bronx, New York.

Bloating and other period-related gastrointestinal issues — including constipation, diarrhea, and gas — are caused by water retention that occurs before and during menstruation, says Dr. Gaither. When an egg isn't fertilized, levels of the hormones progesterone and estrogen decrease, causing the uterine lining to break down and shed and menstrual bleeding to begin, according to the University of California San Francisco. Research suggests that these hormone fluctuations cause the body to retain more water and salt, thereby contributing to that period-related bloating.

It's also possible that the bloating you feel leading up to your period is the result of or further exacerbated by constipation — another lovely side effect of the hormone fluctuations happening throughout your menstrual cycle. Before the aforementioned decrease in progesterone (which, remember, happens when a fertilized egg doesn't implant in the uterus), levels of the hormone actually peak. Such an increase in progesterone slows down digestion (and, thus, the movement of food) throughout the intestinal tract, leading to constipation and/or that bloated, balloon-in-your-belly feeling around your cycle, explains Vonne Jones, M.D., a board-certified ob-gyn and founder/owner of Total Women's Care in Houston. (

Can Taking Extra Birth Control Pills and Pain Killers Stop Your Period?

As for Sweeney's attempt to stop her period by taking a combination of extra birth control pills and painkillers? Not a great idea, according to experts. In fact, there are many reasons why her cocktail of birth control and Advil/Tylenol is unsafe — the first being that you can't simply stop your period once it's already started.

"I wouldn't recommend trying it," says Dr. Jones. Each oral contraceptive is formulated with specific levels of estrogen and/or progestin (a synthetic form of progesterone), and your doctor has prescribed your individual birth control pill for a reason. Taking three or four times the amount of these hormones in one sitting can cause a host of unpleasant side effects, including mood changes, blood pressure changes, and most commonly — as the White Lotus star experienced — nausea and vomiting, says Dr. Jones. Taking too many birth control pills in one day also ups your risk for more serious side effects, including blood clots in the legs (deep vein thrombosis) or blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary embolism), she adds.

Taking more than the recommended dose of painkillers, including Advil and/or Tylenol, will also likely lead to GI upset. Though Sweeney didn't mention which painkiller(s) or the dosage she used, "NSAIDs [such as Advil] in large doses can cause ulcers, stomach pain, and internal bleeding," says Dr. Gaither.

"Taking more than the recommended amount of a painkiller — in adults, approximately 400 mg every four hours, as needed — especially when combined with birth control, can lead to dizziness and nausea," says ob-gyn Amy Roskin, M.D., chief medical officer at The Pill Club. "Other symptoms might include heartburn, sweating, or blurred vision." All that said, you'll want to stick to the dosage as listed or check in with your doctor before taking anything off-label — even OTC meds can cause serious problems if not taken as directed. (

"Before you decide you're going to try something you've read about online, please reach out to your doctor — especially if you have any pre-existing conditions, such as high blood pressure (hypertension)," says Dr. Jones. "It's always best to seek an opinion from your doctor, especially when it comes to your hormones and the menstrual cycle."

How, If At All, Can You Safely Delay Your Period or Ease Bloat?

Thankfully, there are plenty of safe, gentle ways to ease period bloating or delay your cycle in advance (not once it's started, as was the case for Sweeney) if you, too, have a sexy photoshoot on the cal during your period.

When it comes to bloat, Dr. Gaither recommends staying well-hydrated by drinking lots of water the week before and during your period, as well as avoiding caffeine and alcohol — both can trigger or exacerbate GI woes during this time. Another good idea? Eating as many fiber-rich fruits and vegetables as possible to help boost hydration levels and prevent constipation, says Dr. Jones. "The pre-period spike in progesterone causes us to crave salty and sugary foods, but they contribute to bloating."

And yes, you can safely delay your period before it starts if you're on hormonal birth control pills by using a continuous hormonal birth control regimen or skipping the placebo pills, adds Dr. Roskin. The hormones in your pill actively suppress your fertility, so when you skip the placebo pills or take a continuous-use pill, you can avoid getting a period altogether or start it at a later date. Note that this should be done under the guidance of your ob-gyn, who can help you do it safely and navigate potential side effects, such as breakthrough bleeding, as well as making it more difficult to know if you are pregnant.

"Many people take ibuprofen alongside a birth control pill to reduce period pain and bloating before and/or during their cycle, but taking too much of both likely led to [Sweeney's] nausea and dizziness," says Dr. Roskin.

The TL;DR here: There are plenty of ways to help ease your biggest period woes, but you'll always want to check in with your doctor — not Dr. Google — before you give any of 'em a try.

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